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The stimulus given by Pro- 
fessor C. G. Seligman, F.R.S., 
to so many branches of the 
Science of Man is reflected by 
the diversity of these essays. 
They cover physical anthropo- 
logy and race problems, pre- 
historic and classical archaeol- 
ogy, technological studies, the 
application of psycho-analysis to 
primitive societies, social and re- 
ligious institutions in Oceania, 
America, the Orient, and Africa, 

Among the contributors are 
Dr A. C. Hacldon, F,R.S., of 
Cambridge, the Rector of Exeter 
(Dr R. R. Marett), Professor J. 
L. Myres, Mr Henry Balfour 
and Captain Pitt - Rivers, the 
Princess Marie Bonaparte 
(H.R.H. Princess George of 
Greece), Dr Geza Roheim, and 
Mrs C. G. Seligman, 

From other countries we have 
contributions by Professors 
Lowie, Hrdlicka, and Hersko- 
vits, Professor L. K. Tao, Pro- 
fessor Lindblom, Professor \Ves- 
termarck, and Professor Landt- 

i Continued from other JCap.) 

A great many essays come 
from Professor Seligtnan's pupils, 
among whom, besides the editors, 
there are to be numbered Dr 
Audrey Richards and Dr Gordon 

This collection of essays and 
memoirs thus not only demon- 
strates the great scientific im- 
portance of the distinguished 
scholar in whose honour it is col- 
lected, but also gives an incom- 
parable insight into the latest. 
developments of Anthropology 
and the allied disciplines. 


Edited by 











PREFACE .......... ix 

APPRECIATION. By A. C. Haddon ..... 1 


AFFINITIES ELSEWHERE. By Henry Balfour ... 5 


HEHE CROSS-COUSIN MARRIAGE. By G. Gordon Brown . . 27 


Louis C. G. Clarke . . . . . 41 

ZANDE THERAPEUTICS. By E. E. Evans-Pritchard ... 49 



Melville J. Herskovits 75 

DECADENCE IN INDIA. By A. M. Hocart .... 85 



PEOPLE. By Gunnar Landtman ..... 103 

THE JOURNEY OF THE DEAD. By John Layard . . .113 


L. S. B. Leakey 143 


By K. C. Lindblom 149 


NORTH AMERICAN AREAS. By Robert H. Lowie . . 183 


Malinowski . . . . . . . .189 

FOOD RITES. By R. R. Marett 197 

IBO LAW. By C. K. Meek 209 


J. L. Myres .... ... 227 

Rivers ... 241 



HAUSA POETRY. By R. S. Rattray 255 


Richards 267 


THEORY OF CULTURE. By Gza R6heim . . . .281 


I. Schapera 293 


Brenda Z. Seligman 307 



FAMILY. By L. K. Tao 335 


Richard Thurnwald 345 


Edward Westermarck . . . . . . .301 



1934 381 


C. G. Seligman,/row a drawing by Sir William Rothenstein 



I. Clay Cores and Vessels of membrane, West Africa .1 

II. Flasks of membrane, West Africa . . . . / 

III. Clay Cores and small Boxes of membrane, West Africa \\ 

Snuff-flasks of blood, membrane, and clay, South 
Africa j 18 

IV. Vessels of membrane, India . . . . J 

V. Highly decorated Vessel of membrane, Bikanir, 
Raj put ana ; Flask of membrane, Ancient 
Egyptian . . . . . . .18 

VI. Spears, Bissagos Islands (Fig. 2) . . . .150 

VII. Spears, " Guinde " (Fig. 5) ; Spear, Sierra Leone 

(Fig. 6) 152 

VIII. Mandingo notable with trident, N. Liberia (Fig. 7) . 153 

IX. Spear with forked butt, S. Nigeria (Fig. 11) ; Spear- 
heads, bident and trident, Fitri Sultanate (Fig. 15) ; 
Spear, bident, Mongalla (Fig. 18) . . .158 

X. Alur Spear (Fig. 19) ; Spear-head, Mangbetu (Fig. 20) 160 

XL Abyssinian Church-staves (Fig. 23) ; Somali (?) 

Spear (Fig. 25) 162 

XII. Two Kamba elders with the signs of dignity (Fig. 27) ; 

Tumba chiefs, Bongo (Fig. 30) . . . . 166 

XIII. Spear with two points, Congo (Ubangi ?) (Fig. 28) ; 

Spear, Lake Leopold II, Congo (Fig. 31) . .168 

XIV. Spears used by sherifs, Morocco (Fig. 34) ; Two-bladed 

Spear, Uganda (Fig. 36) 170 

XV. Spear, White Nile district ? (Fig. 37) ; Chief's Spear, 

" Nyasaland " arid " Kenya " (?) (Fig. 38) . . 172 

XVI. Spears, Chief's Sceptre, " Aliwal North, Cape 
Colony " (?) (Fig. 39) ; Royal Spear, Sakalava, 
Tulear, S.W. Madagascar (Fig. 40) . . .174 

XVII. Rough and partially polished Adze Blades . . 190 

XVIII. A Rite of Garden Magic 194 

XIX. The Village of Moagendo ; Tjimundo People . . 348 


In handing over this volume of essays written in honour of 
Professor C. G. Seligman, F.R.S., to the anthropological world, 
the editors have but little to add. 

An appreciation by Dr. A. C. Haddon, F.R.S., gives as good an 
idea of the personality and contributions of Seligman as could 
come from the pen of any living anthropologist, for Haddon 
gave him his first introduction to field anthropology in the famous 
Cambridge Expedition to the Torres Straits Islands, 1898-9, 
and has since constantly remained in touch with him. 

The different essays illustrate and document the width of 
Seligman's own interests and contributions to the Science of 
Man. The range of diverse subjects whether physical anthro- 
pology, the study of races and racial problems, psychology and 
psycho-analysis or the study of dreams, the organization of 
primitive societies or technology demonstrates the interests of 
men and women who have been inspired by the work of the 
savant to whom they pay their tribute. 

The scope in the purely physical sense, the regional extent of 
the essays, marks also the width of the work done by Seligman. 
Africa, Oceania, and Asia are especially well represented. These 
are also the areas covered by the field-work of the author of The 
Melanesians of British New Guinea. No writer who studies the 
South Seas will overlook that work. No anthropologist interested 
in primitive humanity, in the beginnings of culture and the 
simplest modes of human behaviour, ever fails to turn to The 
Veddas. No administrator or theoretical worker on the cultures 
of Africa could do without the Pagan Tribes of the Nilotic Sudan, 
Nor will anyone easily forget that the last two books were 
written in collaboration with his constant companion, Mrs. Brenda 
Z. Seligman. The three volumes are the charter of Seligman's claim 
to be primus inter pares among the best field- workers of our times. 

As his pupils, the editors wish to express their profound 
indebtedness to Professor Seligman for the intellectual stimulus 
and personal kindness which he gives to all those who work with 
him. In this we are certain that our sentiments are shared by all 
the contributors whether these be Seligman's pupils, friends, or 

Unfortunately owing to unforeseen circumstances several 
friends of Professor Seligman, including Sir James Frazer, Professor 
G. P:iliot Smith, Professor Marcel Mauss, Captain T. A. Joyce, 
Dr. W. J. Perry, and Dr. J. H. Driberg, were unable to contribute 
to this volume as they had wished. 



Early in 1898, after I had selected the personnel of the 
Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres Straits, Dr. 
C. G. Seligman, who was an old friend of Dr. C. S. Myers, asked to 
be allowed to join. I had already as many colleagues as I cared 
to arrange for and was at first by no means disposed to accept 
Seligman in addition, but he was so keen that I was 
practically forced to accede to his persistence. Seligman at that 
time was a qualified medical man and was more particularly 
interested in pathology, to which science he had already made 
contributions of value. He was also interested in psychology, 
but he had no training in anthropology nor any special leanings 
in that direction. When he joined the expedition at Thursday 
Island in April, 1898, he brought as a handsel an account of the 
seclusion of girls of the Yaraikanna and Otati tribes of the 
Cape York peninsula, which was subsequently published in 
the Reports, v, 1904, 205-7. This was his first effort in 
ethnology. During the stay of the expedition in Torres Straits 
and New Guinea, Seligman paid particular attention to native 
medicine and surgery and made clinical observations on the 
diseases of natives. He also discovered and described the women's 
puberty customs in the western islands of Torres Straits. When 
in New Guinea he undertook some interesting investigations in 
the Mekeo and Rigo districts, including experiments on the 
tactile sensibility, keenness of eyesight, colour vision and the 
like of various tribes. Thus it will be seen that the observations 
he then made were more or less associated with his earlier interests. 

It was during this expedition that Dr. Rivers first became 
interested in ethnology, as previously his work had been done 
in laboratories on the physiology of the senses, rather than in 
pure psychology. He was the first to apply the genealogical 
method in ethnological field-work and to demonstrate its value 
in sociological inquiry. Seligman was thus a witness of the 
evolution of this important new technique, of which he after- 
wards made considerable use. Indeed, it is not claiming too much 
to assert that at this time Seligman was learning how to make 
ethnological investigations by seeing other students engaged 
in field-work and by co-operating with them and joining 
in the discussions of problems as they arose. I do not know to 
what extent Seligman at that time had the very varied interests 


he showed subsequently, but at all events the potentialities 
were there and they rapidly showed themselves as the oppor- 
tunities arose. 

Seligman went with us to Sarawak and thus had a new 
experience. He now came into contact with different types of 
people, having a varied range of cultures, who were in every 
respect very unlike the Papuans and Papuo-Melanesians with 
whom he had previously become acquainted. 

This was the first stage of Seligman's ethnographical career 
and it was from the experiences that he had thus acquired that 
his subsequent independent work was based. 

In the summer of 1903 Seligman took a fishing holiday in 
Hampshire, for he is a keen fisherman when the opportunity 
presents itself. He casually met Major Cooke Daniels and as 
they became friendly Seligman naturally spoke about his 
experiences in New Guinea, and thereby his American friend 
was stimulated to finance an expedition to New Guinea and, 
fortunately, remembered an overlooked balance in one of his 
banks. The scientific direction of the expedition of 1904 was 
entrusted to Seligman, Cooke Daniels undertook the administra- 
tion and the study of the material culture of the natives, and 
Dr. W. Mersh Strong volunteered as assistant. For reasons 
that acre not worth recalling, no general account of the expedition 
was published nor were the observations on material culture. 
It may be here noted that Dr. Strong remained in New Guinea 
and took service under the Government of Papua, and also that 
practically the whole of the ethnological specimens were presented 
to the British Museum by Major Cooke Daniels. 

The information obtained on this expedition was published 
some years later by Seligman in his fine book The Melanesians 
of British New Guinea, Cambridge, 1910. Malinowski, Armstrong, 
Fortune, and others have built upon the foundations of the social 
organization of the Papuo-Melanesians so well and truly laid 
by Seligman, and by more intensive and prolonged study of 
limited areas have greatly increased our knowledge. When one 
remembers the short time Seligman could give on this expedition 
to any one locality or to any particular sociological problem, it 
is amazing what varied and accurate information he amassed. 
It demonstrated his indefatigable zeal and general knowledge 
of anthropology, and his ability to seize upon those features 
that really matter, which have characterized him ever since. 
By his field-work and the marshalling of his investigations into 
book form, Seligman passed from his apprenticeship into the 
rank of a recognized master. 

The most important event in Seligman's career was his 
marriage with Brenda Z. Salaman in 1905. She had a training 
in Zoology at Bedford College, which helped her in her later work. 


All of Seligman's friends of that time can appreciate what this 
marriage has meant for him personally and for the fuller oppor- 
tunities it afforded him for ethnological research. 

Seligman maintained his interest in pathology and prosecuted 
his researches therein, and he obtained a gold medal for his 
London M.D. thesis on his pathological work in New Guinea. 
He was pathologist to the Zoological Society from 1905-7, 
but it had become clear by about the latter year that this science 
must be dropped by him as an active pursuit. 

It was about this time that Seligman became interested in 
Chinese ceramics ; he naturally began collecting in a small and 
tentative manner and his aesthetic appreciation was reinforced 
by historical and ethnological study. Slowly he and Mrs. Seligman 
accumulated a collection of Chinese ceramics, which, I am told, 
is much appreciated by connoisseurs. It was love of Chinese art 
that led to a long-desired visit to the Far East in 1929-1930, 
during which he accumulated much material of ethno-psycho- 
logical interest. 

I had long been desirous that some of the most backward 
peoples, such as the Andamanese, Vedda, Bushmen of South 
Africa, and the like, should be studied intensively by trained 
observers. Being in close touch with the Hon. John Ferguson 
(a relative by marriage and editor of the Ceylon Observer, who 
always had made the welfare of Ceylon his prime concern), 
I enlisted his aid and he with the help of Dr. Arthur Willey 
induced the Legislative Council to make a grant to enable the 
Seligmans to investigate the Vedda in 1907-8. We all know 
the great value of their work, not only in description, but for the 
light it shed on wider problems. It is evident that many of the 
observations made on these shy and jealous people could not 
have been obtained had not Mrs. Seligman been present, and 
had she not actively participated in the investigations. This 
was her first effort in field-work, and thereafter she has been 
her husband's companion in the expeditions to the Sudan and 
also has made herself an authority on kinship and social 
organization. As The Melanesians of British New Guinea 
marked the opening of Seligman's career, so The Veddas 
emphasizes the scientific partnership of the Seligmans. 

Then followed the memorable investigations of the ethnology 
of the Sudan. A few years after the re-occupation, the late David 
Hogarth advised the Sudan Government to provide funds for 
a small ethnographical survey and this was entrusted to the 
Seligmans. The first joint expedition took place in the winter 
of 1909-1910 and this was followed by expeditions in 1911-12 
and 1921-2. A glance at the Bibliography will indicate 
the wide scope of the researches then made : archaeology, 
physical anthropology, material culture, social structure and 


function, psychology, religion, racial problems were all investi- 
gated and discussed, but every now and again Seligman found 
time to renew his old interest in New Guinea, as the titles of 
various papers testify. 

The Fellowship of the Royal Society was conferred on him 
in 1919 in acknowledgment of his eminence in anthropology. 

Seligman 's interest in psychology, though always active, 
was enormously stimulated by his War service in a " shell-shock " 
hospital. It was his experience gained at Maghull, as much as 
his anthropological field-work, that led him to compose his 
Presidential Address to the Royal Anthropological Institute 
in 1924, entitled " Anthropology and Psychology : a study of 
some points of contact ", in which he delivered his soul on " a 
portion of that little-known borderland where social anthropology, 
psychology and genetics meet in common biological kinship ". 
In this Address he discussed the extravert and introvert types 
among civilized people and savages, and the dreams of non- 
European races, and since then he has published several papers 
on psychology. 

No anthropologist has had a wider experience in the field 
or has studied so many aspects of human life. He has found 
interest in the most simple objects, in the relation of man to 
man, and in human ideas and ideals, and in all he has appreciated 
the broader implications. Fortunately, this is not an obituary 
notice and so I cannot be expected to enter into more personal 
matters or to do more than express the admiration and affection 
we all feel for " Sligs ". 



One of the objectives of a tour which I made in Nigeria in 
1930, was to see for myself the process, as practised by the 
Hausawa, of making flasks, boxes, and other receptacles from 
animal membranes, by layering and moulding the membrane 
over clay shapes, or cores, which are subsequently broken up 
inside the completed vessels, when the latter have dried sufficiently 
to retain the shape imparted by the cores. Among the Hausa 
this industry is known as the tandu industry, and is widely 
practised, very large numbers of objects made by this technique 
being still manufactured. As far as I am aware no detailed 
description of the technique has been published hitherto, and 
it seemed to me that the process was worthy of study, since it 
not only has an intrinsic interest as a specialized technique, 
but also a comparative interest arising from its geographical 

So, when I was spending a few days in Katsina, on the 
northernmost border of Northern Nigeria, I asked the Emir 
to arrange for me to see the tandu manufacturing process as 
thoroughly as possible in the brief time at my disposal. He 
very kindly at once issued orders to this effect. When I was about 
to start for the scene of operations, the Emir remarked, " By 
the way, I have myself never watched this industry in operation, 
so I will accompany you/' This was particularly fortunate for 
me, as he, realizing my objective, was able to insist upon the 
various stages being exhibited clearly before me, and to secure 
for me the specimens required for illustrating the sequence of 
processes involved and the appliances used in the industry. 

We found a tandu worker's shop in one of the very narrow, 
winding back-streets of the town. The workshop consisted of 
a very small, unfurnished, mud-floored room opening directly 
on to the street. The Hausa craftsman was squatting upon the 
ground close to the doorway, where there was sufficient light to 
work by, the rest of the room being but sombrely lit. Before him 
lay a freshly-flensed cow-skin, upon which he had already started 
working. The skin had not been tanned, and the distinctly 
trying atmosphere in its neighbourhood did not suggest that it 
had been treated with any kind of preservative, though it may, 
possibly, have been steeped in salt water. 


The first stage in the proceeding consisted in splitting the hide 
into three layers. For this, the skin was spread, a portion at a 
time, over a smooth, flat slab of very hard stone, perhaps 18 by 

FIG. 1. Tandu craftsman slitting a fresh cow-skin into three layers. 
Northern Nigeria, 1930. 


15 inches in superficial area. The man then very neatly and 
skilfully separated the hair-bearing dermal layer from the less 
compact, adipose subcutaneous layer of connective tissue, using 


FIG. 2. Wide-edged, spatulate knives used for slitting the skin and for cutting 
out and trimming the pieces of membrane for layering on to the clay cores. 
Katsina. One-third actual size. 

a peculiar spade-like knife with wide, very sharp terminal cutting- 
edge (Text-figs, i and 2). The hairy layer was laid aside, when 
separated, as being concerned with the later stages of the process. 


Next, the underlying connective-tissue layer was similarly 
split into two thin sheets, both of which were to serve as the 
principal material used in building up the skin vessels. The 
sectional diagram (Text-fig. 3) will serve to show the splitting of 
the rawhide into three layers, A being the separated portion of 
the hairy cuticular skin, B and C the two parts of the divided 
subcutaneous layer of connective-tissue, and D the slab of stone. 
At intervals throughout the process, the knife-edge was 
resharpened by rubbing it upon the stone slab. 

A number of air-dried clay cores of various shapes had 
previously been prepared and were standing on the floor ready 
for use (PI. I, Figs, i, 2, and 3). One of these was selected, having 
the shape of a flask or vase with bulging body and high, sub- 
cylindrical neck. This was to serve as a core upon which the skin 
vessel was to be built up. The operator then cut out a piece of one of 
the layers of divided subcutaneous tissue (B and C in the diagram), 
shaping it so that it would lap round a considerable portion of 

FIG. 3. Diagrammatic section showing the slitting of the cow-skin into three 
layers. A = the hairy cuticle ; B and C = the two layers of the divided 
subcutaneous membrane ; D = the stone slab upon which the cutting 
is performed. Katsina. 

the core. It must require considerable experience to cut out 
the pieces in shapes best adapted to covering the core in the 
most effective, uniform, and economical manner. The edges of 
this piece of membrane were pared down very thin. The 
membrane was then applied to the surface of the core and was 
pressed on to it, forming a thin covering of tissue. Other pieces 
of the membrane, similarly prepared, were applied in the same 
manner, until the whole of the core was closely enveloped in 
membrane (PL I, Fig. 4). Wherever the pieces of membranous 
tissue meet and overlap, they adhere tenaciously to each other, 
by virtue of the inherent glutinous nature of the material, and 
the thinned edges, when well pressed home, cause the joins to 
become invisible, as though completely " fused ". The 
membranous covering thus forms a seamless, continuous coating 
of the exact shape of the core, and, when dry, will retain the 
shape permanently. A second layer of membrane may be super- 
posed on the first, if it is desired to render the walls of the vessel 
thicker and stronger, for making vessels of larger size. 


Before they are put aside to dry and harden on the cores, 
certain details may be added to complete some of the types of 
vessels. Looped handles are added to many of the vase-shaped 
examples (PL I, Fig. 5). Each of these is formed by cutting out 
a strip of the membrane, an inch or more in width, and folding 
this longitudinally, so as to form a three- or four-layer-thick 
band, which is compacted by squeezing, the ends being left flat 
and expanded. The band is then bent into hoop-form and the 
expanded ends are pressed against the membrane covering the 
core, to which they firmly adhere. Two, three, or four of these 
loops may be affixed to the body of the vessel, for the attachment 
of suspending cords. 

A lid, in the form of a cap, fitting closely over the rim of the 
vase, is usually added (PI. I, Fig. 5). This may be made either by 
covering the top of the core with another sheet of the membrane 
which overlaps the upper part of the skin vessel (after the latter 
has been dried), or it may be shaped upon a separate core of 
the appropriate shape. These lids are frequently embellished 
with one or more of the membranous loops, similar to those 
applied to the bodies of the vessels. 

The essential structure is thus completed and the vessel can 
be put aside to become completely set and hardened upon the 
core.' When the membrane is sufficiently dry, it is necessary 
to get rid of the clay-supporting core, which has now fulfilled 
its function. The skin vessel is hammered with a stick or bone 
so as to break up the core into fragments, which are then shaken 
out, leaving the completed skin shape as a light but firm, thin- 
walled vessel, more or less translucent (PI. I, Fig. 6). It is tough 
and unbreakable, without seams or visible joins, and is capable 
of holding liquids. These vessels are an excellent substitute for 
pottery, being well adapted to transport, by reason of their light 
weight and their non-fragile quality. They are naturally much 
favoured by horsemen and camel-riders. 

Flask-shaped vessels made by the tandu technique in Northern 
Nigeria vary in size from tiny flasks for containing antimony 
or galena, some barely 2 inches high (PI. II, Figs. 17-22), 
up to huge milk-churns more than 2 feet high (PI. I, Fig. 10). 
The largest example which I obtained in Katsina is 24! inches 
(62 cm.) in height, measured without its lid (PL I, Fig. 10). The 
smallest flasks are usually made upon a core in which the globular 
body is of clay, while the neck is a piece of reed stuck into the 
clay (Text-fig. 4, a and 6) : the latter is removed when the clay is 
broken up. Somewhat larger flasks are made for containing snuff 
(PL II, Figs. 23-9) ; others, still larger, are receptacles for milk 
and other liquids (PL I, Figs. 7-9). Small circular and rectangular 
skin boxes (PL III, Figs. 35-9) with lids fitting closely over them 
are also made upon clay cores of the appropriate shapes (PL III, 


Figs. 31-4) and are used for holding kola-nuts and other small 
objects ; larger circular boxes with close-fitting conical lids are 
another product of the tandu technique (PI. I, Figs. 13, 14), and 
are used as food-boxes by nomads. But the shaping of the 
receptacles for use, while it is the primary object of this industry, 
does not necessarily complete the work. Usually the flasks and 
boxes are decorated more or less elaborately, and this is where 
the hairy cuticle of the hide comes into use. Pieces of this are 
cut out into plain or dentated strips or into ornamentally shaped 
panels, and these are applied to the surface of the membrane 
vessel, while the latter is still upon the core and before it has 
dried. The pieces are affixed with the hair outwards and they 
adhere tenaciously to the surface. A patterned effect is thus 
produced, and, by selecting pieces of the cuticle having white, 

FIG. 4. Making a small tandu flask, for containing antimony or galena. A = the 
core with clay base and reed ' neck ' ; B = a similar core encased in 
membrane. Katsina. 

black, or brown hair, the appliques designs are given colour 
values. The effect so produced is often very striking and attractive 
(PI. I, Figs. 7-10). Other decorative methods are frequently 
adopted, for the embellishment especially of the smaller objects. 
Strips of red or green leather may be applied to the surface, 
or the whole surface may be coated with thin leather (PI. II, 
Fig. 29) . Snuff-flasks and boxes are often decorated with patterns 
of incised lines and may be stained in patterns as well (PI. II, 
Figs. 25, 26). Ornamental bead-work coverings are also seen 
(PL II, Fig. 22). The largest decorated vessels, such as that shown 
in PI. I, Fig. 10, are, I was told, much favoured as betrothal gifts 
bestowed by young men upon their fiancees, a delicate hint, 
perhaps, that the latter will be expected to work at the churn 
after marriage. A somewhat unusual article made by a tandu 


craftsman is the toy gun (PL II, Fig. 30) which was moulded in 
membrane over a clay core and is decorated with strips and patches 
of black- and white-haired cow-skin and with strips of green leather. 

Considering the time and skill required for making these 
tandu articles, their selling-price appears remarkably low. 
Antimony- and snuff-flasks, for example, are sold in the markets 
for prices varying from twopence to sixpence each, and this for 
decorated examples ! 

One sees the products of this industry on sale in nearly all 
the native markets in Northern Nigeria and to a considerable 
extent in Southern Nigeria, too. I do not at present know to 
what extent the technique may be practised in other parts of 
West Africa (the Gold Coast, Dahomey, Togoland, Camerun, 
etc.), but there seems to exist a considerable export of tandu 
articles to these areas from Nigeria. 

To the north of Nigeria, in the country of the Tuareg, skin 
flasks and boxes of the types described are in considerable 
demand, being well adapted to the requirements of a nomad 
life. These articles are largely imported into the region from 
Nigeria, and their introduction to the Tuareg may be due to the 
incursion of Songhai colonists, at the time of, or as a result of, 
the Songhai conquest of Agades under Muhammad Askia, early 
in the sixteenth century. Mr. Francis Rodd is of this opinion, 
but he adds that the introduced art is now indigenous among 
the Tuareg, and the tandu industry is practised by them, 
especially by the women, in the Air district, though not by the 
truly nomad element among the Tuareg. Boxes of the type 
shown in PI. I, Figs. 13 and 14, are chiefly used by them for carrying 
butter or dates and also honey. The dates are boiled and then 
pressed tightly into the boxes, which, being practically air-tight, 
enable the contents to retain their moisture. Flask-shaped vessels 
are used for liquids or honey, and the smaller flasks for holding 
snuff or saltpetre (for mixing with tobacco, to bring out the 
flavour) ; the latter are ornamented with incised designs and 
staining, in the same way as the boxes, a form of decoration 
which Mr. Rodd attributes to the Songhai. 

In Damergu, which lies between Air and the northern border 
of Nigeria, honey is carried about in very large containers " shaped 
like the Roman glass lacrymatories ", Mr. Rodd informs me, 
which are rendered air-tight by a thong tied round the neck 
and with a piece of wet hide over the mouth. These receptacles 
may be up to 2| feet in height, and, although they are 
not decorated, are presumably of the type represented here in 
PI. I, Fig. 6. I do not know whether these are manufactured in 
the district or imported from the south. 

Other parts of the African continent can claim this technique, 
though the dispersal appears at present somewhat sporadic 


and disconnected. A very interesting specimen, given by Sir 
Flinders Petrie to the Pitt Rivers Museum in 1897, is shown 
in PL V, Fig. 59. It was excavated by him in the Ramesseum 
at Thebes, and is dateable between the nineteenth and twenty- 
second dynasties (i.e. between about 1200 and 750 B.C.). It 
was described as a "pilgrim-bottle" of leather 1 ; but I feel 
convinced that this is erroneous and that it must have been made 
by a process similar to that followed in the tandu industry. 
Although much weathered and indurated into a brittle state, the 
membranous material appears to be similar to that employed 
in the Nigerian manufacture, viz. the subcutaneous adipose 
tissue from a freshly-flensed hide ; there are no seams, though 
around the periphery of the flask a thickening appears to indicate 
where the edge of one of the two circular pieces of membrane 
of which the body is made slightly overlaps the other. As the 
edges of the overlapping piece were not shaved thin (as in the 
Hausa examples) the join is rendered visible since the overlapping 
edge terminates abruptly. The walls of the flask are fairly thick 
and evidently built up by superposing one layer of membrane 
over another. The weathering process has caused the layers 
partly to separate and scale away from each other. This vessel 
can only, I think, have been made by layering the membrane 
over a core, which was broken up and removed after the membrane 
had dried, and, therefore, it is probable that the core was of 
unbaked clay, easily broken. The neck was formed similarly of 
pieces of membrane wrapped round the neck of the core, and the 
pair of looped handles (one of which remains) are of membrane 
applied in the Hausa manner. A further link with the Nigerian 
tandu is suggested by the decoration of the vessel with patterns 
of incised lines, a style of ornamentation very prevalent upon 
the Hausa tandu articles. 

So far I have seen no other example of the kind from ancient 
Egypt, but, doubtless, others exist and would repay examination. 
The practice of this technique in ancient times in Egypt suggests 
that here we have the source whence the Nigerian industry was 
derived. As far as I am aware, the manufacture of articles in 
this manner has ceased to be practised in Egypt, but the ancient 
industry may very probably be represented still in the modern 
craft of West Africa. 

Elsewhere in Africa we find the technique being followed 
in a region very far distant from the other two areas mentioned. 
South of the Zambesi the same method of moulding membraneous 
material over clay cores, for making such objects as snuff-flasks, 
is still being practised by some of the Bantu tribes. 

1 J. E. Quibell, The Ramesseum, 1898, p. 13, "A ' pilgrim bottle ' in leather 
was found with a scratched pattern exactly like that of the same shape in pottery, 
suggesting a leather origin for this form." 


The account given by the Rev. J. G. Wood (Natural History 
Man, 1874, i, 174) is the most detailed which I have as yet 
found. He describes a method adopted by the Kafir for making 
snuff-flasks. " The Kaffir begins by making a clay model of some 
animal, and putting it in the sun to dry. . . . When a cow is 
killed, the Kaffir removes the hide, and lays it on the ground with 
the hair downwards. With the sharp blade of his assagai he 
then scrapes the interior of the hide, so as to clean off the 
coagulated blood which adheres to it, and collects it all in one 
place. With this blood he mixes some powdered earth, and works 
the blood and the powder into a paste. Of course, a small quantity 
of animal fibre is scraped from the hide and mixed with the 
paste, and aids to bind it more closely together. The paste being 
ready, the Kaffir rubs it over the clay model, taking care to lay 
it on of a uniform thickness A few minutes in the burning 
sunshine suffice to harden it tolerably, and then a second coat is 
added. The Kaffir repeats this process until he has obtained a 
coating about the twelfth of an inch in thickness. Just before 
it has become quite hard, he takes his needle or a very finely 
pointed assagai, and raises a kind of coarse nap on the surface, 
so as to bear a rude resemblance to hair. When it is quite dry, 
the Kaffir cuts a round hole in the top of the head, and with his 
needle, aided by sundry implements made of thorns, picks out 
the whole of the clay model, leaving only the dry coating of paste. 
By this time the plastic paste has hardened to a peculiar con- 
sistency. It is very heavy in proportion to its bulk, partly on 
account of the earthy matter incorporated with it, and partly 
on account of its extremely compact nature. It is wonderfully 
strong, resisting considerable violence without suffering any 
damage. It is so hard that contact with sharp stones, spear-heads, 
or a knife-blade is perfectly innocuous, and so elastic, that if it were 
dropped from the clouds upon the earth, it would scarcely sustain 
any injury." Wood figures one of these snuff-flasks in the form of 
an elephant, and refers to other animal forms similarly rendered 
ox, rhinoceros, hartebeest. He also figures a small gourd-shaped 
snuff-box made in the same way and covered with bead-work. 

I give here (PI. Ill, Figs. 40-4) illustrations of five examples 
of this craft. Two are in the form of oxen, and three of the gourd- 
shaped type. The centre one has a bone spoon, with which the 
snuff is taken, attached to it. It was collected in 1827 by Capt. 
H. F. de Lisle. These testify to the accuracy of Wood's description 
of the mode of manufacture. 

In the Catalogue of the Natal contributions to the Colonial 
and Indian Exhibition, held at South Kensington in 1886, the 
following item appears on p. 59 : " Ifongwana la manyama, 
snuff-boxes moulded from scrapings of an ox-hide." These were 
of the character of those described above. 


Ratzel, in Vdlkerkunde, 1895, ii, 75, figures two of the 
gourd-shaped Kafir snuff-flasks, and describes them as made 
from blood, connective tissues, and clay. And on the coloured 
plate opposite to p. 64, one of the animal-shaped examples is 
shown and described as made from animal's bladder and resin. 

Dudley Kidd (The Essential Kafir, 1904, p. 331) says: "I 
have frequently seen the Pondo children making small clay oxen 
to play with. Sometimes they bake the clay images of oxen 
and stretch a piece of the intestine of an animal over them, 
allowing the membrane to dry ; then, the clay casts broken, 
the oxen stand forth in a semi-transparent gelatinous form, having 
been previously teased into little dots and ridges by a sharp 
piece of bone/' The correctness of this description seems to be 
doubtful, as the baking of the clay cores would appear unnecessary 
and, indeed, would render their removal far more difficult than if 
the clay were merely sun-dried. Also the membrane referred to 
(intestine) would seem less well suited to the purpose than 
the connective tissue and blood mentioned by other writers. The 
specimen shown in PL III, Fig. 42, moreover, obtained from the 
nearly related Amampondomisi, is clearly made from the latter 
much denser material. 

It is, however, quite clear that the technique practised by 
certain Bantu tribes of the Zulu-Xosa group is essentially the 
same as the tandu technique of the Sudanic-Negroes in Nigeria, 
although the two areas are geographically far apart and, as far 
as I am aware, this technique is not now seen in the intervening 
regions. The possibility of a common origin, traceable to an 
Hamitic source, occurs to one, but it is, perhaps, unwise to 
speculate too freely as to the dispersal routes of this industry, 
and better to await further evidence regarding its distribution 
in Africa. The interesting problem remains of linking up the 
three recognized homes of the technique in Africa, viz. Ancient 
Egypt, Northern Nigeria, and South Africa, each of which is 
separated from the other two by an immense distance. 

Leaving the African continent, we may now turn to another 
important home of this industry. An identical method of manu- 
facturing vessels of membranous tissues is widely pursued in 
India, particularly in the more northerly areas. The technique 
has been more elaborated in some of the Indian areas than in 
Africa, and has reached a high pitch of development. The most 
detailed account which I have found of the method of procedure 
in India is that given by W. Hoey in A Monograph on Trade 
and Manufactures in Northern India, published in Lucknow in 
1880. The description applies to the industry as practised in 
Lucknow. I quote his account in abridged form. " Kuppesaz 
Maker of leather jars. The large kuppas in which ghi and oil 
are carried in the East are familiar to everyone who has once 


passed through an Indian bazaar ; but the tiny leather phials 
(called phuleli) made like kuppas and used to hold scented oils 
are a much inore remarkable product of the skilful hand of the 
kuppesaz. These may be seen hung in lines in the gandhis' 
shop and are often of but one tola capacity. The kuppesaz 
buys up the clippings (kaftan) of undressed hides and skins . . . 
and . . . gudar or chilan (i.e. scrapings) of half-finished skins. 
These clippings and parings he brings home, scrapes them and 
thins them and steeps them in water till they become soft and 
pulpy. He prepares hollow mould of unbaked earth of the size 
and shape required and on this he spreads the pieces of soft leather 
which adhere and unite so as to present the appearance of one 
piece. He covers this mould with from 5 to 8 layers. He 
then takes a ring of earth and lays it on the neck and works over 
it the edges of the layers from the body of the mould. He dries 
the kuppa in the sun : taps it with a stick till the mould breaks 
and then inverts the kuppa and the earth tumbles out. The ring 
which has been completely covered with leather is preserved 
unbroken to give shape and solidity to the mouth of the kuppa. 
. . . These clippings have to be steeped, cleaned, thinned with 
a rdmpi (scraper), and steeped again. Each successive layer 
has to be dried on the mould before another is applied. In addition 
to the* katran . . . gudar will be required. This is mixed with 
khali, steeped in water, pounded into pulp and applied to the 
middle of the kuppa in the girth after the second layer of katran 
to give firmness and is also applied over joinings. . . . Phulelis 
are made of only one layer. . . . They are sold by the kuppesaz 
at i-J as. per score to gandhis. They are very rapidly made and 
the katran of one hide suffice to make a score/' 

The above quotation from Hoey gives a number of interesting 
details, though the use of the term " leather " is misleading, 
since the clippings and parings are obtained from undressed hides 
in their natural state and untanned. Apart from minor differences, 
the technique is the same as that of the Nigerian Hausa. 

Through the kindness of Dr. J. H. Hutton and the Deputy- 
Commissioner of Lucknow, I received several medium-sized 
and small kupis manufactured in Lucknow. These range from 
2-| to 7 inches in height and are flask-shaped with short 
necks. They are thin-walled and easily dinted, giving readily 
to the touch. A sun-dried, very friable, clay core, upon which the 
membranous material would be layered, was also sent 
(Text-fig. 5<z). It is hollow throughout and thin-walled ; a hole 
about -J- inch across is left in the centre of the base. One of the 
completed membrane flasks is represented in Fig. 56, showing a 
thickened lip made from an appliqud roll of the membrane. The 
base is flattened, where the membrane covered the hole at the 
bottom of the core. 


I am not at present fully informed as to the distribution of 
this craft in India, but I have collected evidence pointing to 
a wide dispersal in Northern India. From the southern area 
I have no information. 

From Mirzapur, N.W. Provinces, two specimens of oil-flasks 
were sent to me in 1893 (PI. IV, Figs. 46-8) and described by 
Mr. H. E. Drake Brockman as " made of strips of the longer 
stomach of a cow or buffalo, moulded on a clay core, the membrane 
having been soaked for 24 hours in salt and water. The core is 
then broken up and carefully removed/' One of these I bisected 
vertically, in order to show the hollow core of unbaked clay 
in situ (Fig. 48) . These examples are roughly made for ordinary 
use, and the walls are quite thin and pliable. 


FIG. 5. Kupa making in Lucknow. A = the hollow core of air-dried clay ; 
B = oil-flask of thin membrane with thickened lip, formed over a core. 
One-third actual size. 

A small oil-flask of similar rough make, from Patna, Bengal, 
is shown in PI. IV, Fig. 45. 

Some highly finished examples of kuppas and kupis, made 
in Beawar, in the Ajmere-Mewara Province of Rajputana, were 
sent by Mrs. Leslie Saunders to the Indian Institute in Oxford. 
Two of these are figured here (PL IV, Figs. 56, 57). Both are in 
the form of flattened, wide-shouldered jars, the shoulders and 
narrow sides being slightly concave. The walls are thick and 
extremely strong, and the whole surface is very smooth and even. 
Patterns cut out in paper are appliquts to the surface, and the 
smaller flask is painted blue and red. A coat of varnish of some 
kind has been applied over the whole surface. 

From Bikanir, Rajputana, I figure an oil- vessel, tel kappa 
(PL IV, Fig. 55) , ' ' made by covering a clay core with hide scrapings, 


etc.," sent to me by Major R. C. Temple in 1892. A thick flange 
runs up either side of the body and these give attachment to 
a pair of loop handles of cane-work. A spout of turned wood, 
surmounted by a tin nozzle, is fitted into the neck, for pouring. 
This flask is very stoutly built with thick walls. In the Journal 
of Indian Arts, vol. iv, January, 1891 [No. 33], is a coloured 
illustration of an oil-vessel of the same form and, apparently, 
a product of this same technique, but highly decorated in lacquer 
with gilt floral designs in low relief. This also is a product of 
Bikanir State, where elaborate lacquer work is a speciality, 
and, probably, the most elaborately ornate examples of the craft 
of the kuppesaz hail from this State. 

An example, highly decorated in low-relief, gilt, which I 
recently purchased in London, is shown in PL V, Fig. 58, and is 
a typical specimen of the elaborated technique from Bikanir. 

In the Punjab there are several centres where this handicraft 
is pursued Gugaira, Montgomery District ; Khairpur, Muza- 
ffargahr District ; Multan, and, no doubt, many other places 
in the Province. In his Punjab Manufactures, p. 130, Baden 
Powell writes : " The kuppa is made of a leathern material, 
which is, in some cases, I believe, made of hide camel hide and 
others but more often, especially in the smaller sizes, of a 
glutinous skin made by boiling the intestinal integument of horses, 
cows, etc., into a gluey mass. A large clay block of the size and 
shape of the intended vessel is taken and the softened material 
plastered all over it, well beaten together and left to dry. After 
this is finished the interior clay is broken up and picked out." 
In this account the terms " leathern " and " hide " are mis- 
leading, and it is desirable to verify the statement that the 
membrane chiefly employed is derived from the " intestinal 
integument ". 

A massively built-up jar, described as from the Punjab, 
is shown in PL IV, Fig. 50. Its walls are thick and very strong, and 
it is decorated all over with cut-out paper patterns, appliques, 
and then covered with a thin, transparent coating or wash of 
glutinous material. Two examples of similar type, but un- 
decorated, a kuppa and a kuppi, are figured in the Journal of 
Indian Art, vii, pi. 9, as from the Punjab. In the same volume 
is a coloured plate showing several elaborate examples of jars 
and flasks made by this technique from Khairpur, Muzaffargahr 
District, Punjab. Some of the shapes are fanciful, decorative 
effect having been aimed at. These are ornamented with the 
appliquds designs cut out of paper. Similar types are exhibited 
in the Indian Museum, South Kensington, which were obtained 
in Multan, Punjab, and two of the types I figure here (PL IV, 
Figs. 51, 52) from specimens in the Pitt Rivers Museum, together 
with a tumbler (Fig. 53) of similar technique and decorated with 


paper patterns. The three latter specimens are believed to 
have come from Multan. One flask-shaped example (PI. IV, 
Fig. 52) has been formed upon a core having five large holes 
passing through the body ; the holes were lined with the 
membrane, which is continuous from front to back ; the completed 
flask, after elimination of the core, has the body, as it were, 
" tunnelled " through in five places. 

A flask for oil (PI. IV, Fig. 54), described merely as from 
N. India, has its sides gadrooned, with broad, vertical ribs. It 
is elliptical transversely and is broadest at the flat base. 

Mr. K. de B. Codringtoii tells me that small kupis, for holding 
toilet-oils and scents, are sold in Hyderabad, Deccan, for half 
an anna to one anna. 

Finally, mention must be made of an oil-flask, sireshom 
(PL IV, Fig. 49), which was obtained in Afghanistan. It is a small 
example, roughly made and thin-walled. It resembles in make 
examples from Mirzapur, but is fitted with a loop-handle. I have 
no information as to whether it was made in Afghanistan or 
imported into the region ; but in either case it gives evidence 
of the use of these vessels of membrane in this northern area. 

Further evidence, extending the dispersal of this interesting 
and specialized technique, will, no doubt, be forthcoming, and 
it seems important that its complete distribution should be 
ascertained, with a view to determining the original home of 
the invention and the routes along which the technique was 
dispersed. Detailed information regarding this industry in Persia, 
Iraq, and Arabia would be of interest, in view of the possibility, 
or, as Mr. K. de B. Codrington urges, probability of its having 
spread into India as an accompaniment of Islamic diffusion. 
The same influence may, perhaps, have carried the technique 
into Western Africa. But, if I have rightly diagnosed the early 
example from the Ramesseum, it is clear that this industrial 
process in Africa long antedates the rise of Mahommcdanism, 
and, therefore, its diffusion also may have taken place in pre- 
Islamic times. 

For kindly help received while compiling the above notes on 
this specialized industry, I wish to express my cordial thanks to 
the Emir of Katsina, Mr. F. de F. Daniel, Lieut. -Commander 
A. G. G. Webb, ' and Mr. Francis R. Rodd, for information 
regarding West Africa ; and to Dr. J. H. Hutton, the Deputy 
Commissioner of Lucknow, and Mr. K. de B. Codrington, for 
details relating to India. 



(All the specimens figured are in the Pitt-Rivers Museum at Oxford.) 


I, 1, 2, and 3 Cores of air-dried clay ; 4 = core completely covered with membrane ; 5 = core 
covered with membrane to which loop-handles and a close-fitting cap have been added ; 6 =* tandu 
vessel of membrane from which the clay core has been removed ; 7, 8, and 9 = completed tandu 
jars with handles and lids, decorated with appliques strips of hairy cuticle ; 10 = tandu jar of 
the largest size, ornamented with panels and strips of hairy cuticle, black, white, and brown, 
and with decorated lid. The above were all collected in Katsina, 1930. 11 = lidded jar of 
membrane, for oil and food, collected in Katsina by F. Rodd, 1922 ; 12 = double food vessel, 
with upper and lower compartments, obtained in Algiers by J. W. Flower, about 50 years ago ; 
13 = circular food box with close-fitting lid, decorated with stained patterns, Tuareg, Sahara, 
collected by D. Randall Maciver ; 14 a similar food-box collected by F. Rodd from the Tuareg 
of Agades, Air, 1922 ; 15 = small circular box with close-fitting lid, Tuareg, Sahara, from Sir A. 
Evans's collection ; 16 a similar box from Timbuctoo, from R. P. Wild's collection. 

II. 17 = Small antimony flask with tubular cover, decorated with strips of hairy cuticle, Katsina, 1930 ; 
18 double ditto of similar type, collected by A. G. G. Webb in Zaria, N. Nigeria ; 19 = anti- 
mony-flask decorated with strips of hairy cuticle and dyed leather, Katsina, 1930 ; 20 = ditto 
encased in decorative leather-work and with leathern fringe, Zaria, 1930 ; 21 = a similar example, 
Nigeria ; 22 = antimony-flask covered entirely with bead-work, obtained by P. F. Herbert from 
a Yoruba in Ibadan, S. Nigeria ; 23 * snuff-flask, undecora ted, with cylindrical cover, Zaria, 1930 ; 
24 --= ditto, ditto, Gold Coast, collected by R. P. Wild ; 25 = ditto with engraved patterns over 
the surface, Katsina, 1930 ; 26 similarly decorated example, Zaria, 1930 ; 27 --*= snuff-flask, 
covered with hairy cuticle, alternately black and white, N. Nigeria, collected by Miss Badcock ; 
28 = smaller ditto, Zaria, 1930 ; 29 snuff-flask encased in a decorative covering of dyed 
leather, obtained by R. P. Wild from a Hausa trader in the Gold Coast ; 30 = a toy model of a 
gun of moulded membrane covered with black and white strips of hairy cuticle and with narrow 
strips of dyed leather, Nigeria, from Sir R. C. Temple's collection. 

II. 81 == Clay core for moulding a small tandu box, sub-rectangular shape ; 32 = ditto, circular shape ; 
33 =* circular core for moulding a box, with the base covered with membrane, the lid not yet 
formed ; 34 = subrectangular core with base and top coated with membrane in two pieces, to 
form the box and its close-fitting cover. The above were collected in Katsina, 1930. 
35 to 39 = boxes for kola nuts, etc., of membrane moulded over clay cores. The close-fitting lids 
are decorated with engraved lines and by staining. Nigeria. 40 = a snuff -flask made by layering 
hide-scrapings, blood, and powdered earth over a clay core ; a bone snuff-spoon is attached to it 
by a thong, Kaffir, South Africa, collected by Captain H. F. de Lisle in 18^7 ; 41 another 
similar, Kalflrs of the Transkei, collected by Dr. Kingston ; 42 ~ another similar, obtained by 
Dr. F. Corner from the Amampondomisi, Tsolo district, Kaffraria ; 43 = snuff-flask moulded 
in similar manner in the form of an ox, S. Africa, from Miss Acland's collection ; 44 another, 
slightly different, collected by Archdeacon Woodroofe in South Africa. 

IV. 45 =* A small oil-flask, made by layering membranous material over a clay core, Patna, Bengal, from 
Sir R. C. Temple's collection ; 46 to 48 = two similar oil-flasks, of which number 46 is in the 
finished state, while 47 shows the exterior and 48 the interior of a specimen which I bisected in 
order to reveal the hollow clay core in situ, collected by H. E. Drake-Brockman in Mirzapur, 
N.-W. Provinces, in 1893 ; 49 = an oil-vessel, sireshom, made by coating a clay core with skin- 
scrapings, Afghanistan, from Mrs. Courtenay Bell's collection ; 50 *= a thick-walled oil-jar, kupa, 
decorated with cut-out paper patterns appliqu/s to the surface, PunjAb, from General Pitt Rivers' 
collection ; 51 = an ornamentally shaped jar with cover, similarly ornamented, Multan, PunjAb, 
collected by A. Brown, c. 1895 ; 52 = an ornamental flask the body of which is pierced by five 
" tunnels ", covered with paper patterns, Multan ; 53 a drinking-mug with similar decoration, 
Multan. The two last were formerly in the Plymouth Museum. 54 =* an oil-jar with gadrooned 
surface, N. India, from General Pitt Rivers' collection ; 55 = an oil-jar, tel kuppa, of moulded 
membrane, with flanges to which are attached loop-handles of cane, fitted with a duct of wood 
and tin for pouring the oil, Bikanir State, Rajputana, from Sir R. C. Temple's collection, 1892 ; 
56 ** a very finely made kupa, stoutly built and very strong, decorated with a small panel of cut-out 
paper, the whole surface being varnished over, collected by Mrs. Leslie Saunders in Beawar, 
Ajmere-Mewara Province, Rajputana ; 57 = a smaller similar flask, kupi, painted and varnished, 
same data as the last. 

V. 58 = A very elaborately decorated kupa. with gilt flora Idesigns in low relief, Bikanir State, Rajpu- 
tana. 59 - a flask made, apparently, by moulding membranous material over a clay core, the 
surface is decorated with incised lines, excavated by Sir Flinders Petrie in the Ramesseum at 
Thebes, Egypt, in 1897, with objects ranging from the XlXth to the XXIInd dynasties. 


{ face p. i 







,a-. m^ 



[face p. 18 



*. . ! 



Je n'ai pas besoin de rappeler aux lecteurs de ce recueil 
1'oeuvre si considerable du Professeur C. G. Seligman. D'autres 
que moi sauront exposer, de fa?on plus competente, ses 
importantes contributions k 1' ethnographic, cette science si 
jeune encore, et dont le veritable essor ne date pas de beaucoup 
plus d'un demi-sifecle. Ses observations au contact direct des 
indigenes, au cours de ses expeditions en Afrique, travail dans 
lequel Mme Seligman lui apporta une si efficace collaboration, 
son oeuvre d'elucidation des faits observes, lui ont donn6 la 
place qu'il merite parmi les ethnographes de notre temps. 

Mais ce k quoi, comme psychanalyste, je veux particuliferement 
rendre ici hommage, dans 1'oeuvre de Seligman, c'est a la largeur 
de vues, a 1'intuition psychologique qui lui ont fait si bien 
comprendre Timportance de la psychanalyse pour 1'ethnographie, 
ainsi qu'en temoignent les essais qu'il a consacres a cette mature. 1 


La psychanalyse, methode edifiee voici trente & quarante ans 
par Sigmund Freud au chevet des nevroses, et qui lui a permis 
de saisir le mecanisme psychique des psychonevroses, est devenue 
peu a peu la science meme du psychisme humain. Non seulement 
les troubles de 1'appareil psychique, mais son fonctionnement 
normal sont soumis aux lois regissant le penser inconscient. 
Les lois de condensation, de ddplacement, de souci de figuration 
etc. se verifient quotidiennement chez chacun de nous, dans 
r elaboration des reves de nos nuits : le reve, pour qui sait le 
comprendre, est " la voie royale " menant vers T inconscient, 

Mais non seulement nos reves, chacune de nos pensees, de 
nos actions, sont le produit de cet obscur travail qui preside, 
au plus profond de nous, a 1'elaboration inconsciente de notre 
pensee et de notre activite dites conscientes. Quelques rares 
philosophes avaient bien, avant Freud, pressenti et mme 

1 C. G. Seligman:" The Unconscious in Relation to Anthropology/' Brit. 
Journ. PsychoL, xviii, 1928, 376; "Temperament Conflict and Psychosis in a 
Stone Age Population," Brit. Journ.Med.Psychol.,ix, 1926, 196; " Anthropological 
Perspective and Psychological Theory/' The Huxley Memorial Lecture for 
1932), JRAI., Ixii, 1932. 



affirme 1'existence et Timportance de Tinconscient. Mais ils 
1'avaient fait un peu comme on parlait du centre de 1'Afrique 
avant Livingstone et Stanley. Freud est 1'explorateur qui y 
p^netra le premier. 


Ainsi Freud est le premier qui sut voir ce qui peuple vraiment 
Tinconscient. D'abord nos instincts, ces instincts eternels de 
vie et degression qui constituent le fonds biologique indestructible 
de tout inconscient humain, quelqu'ideales, intellectuelles, 
esthetiques que puissent etre parfois au-dessus, dans nos civilisa- 
tions, les superstructures. Puis le residu des evenements de notre 
toute premiere enfance, lesquels mod&lent, differemment dans 
chaque cas, cette matifere premiere de nos primitifs instincts. 
C'est ici que Timportance de 1'entourage de Tenfant eclate, 
importance qui nous autorise a definir Thomme " un animal 
familial". Car, contrairement a ce que certaines ecoles socio- 
lv iques affirment, la psychanalyse, s'appuyant sur 1'observation 
dii cte du materiel humain, nous enseigne que tout homme, 
avant d'appartenir au " groupe ", appartint a la " famille " 
et que la famille primitive, la petite horde menee par un male 
telle celles des grands anthropoides de nos jours encore dut 
preexister aux vastes collect ivites. 

C'est dans ses relations au pre, a la m&re, aux fr&res, que 
1'homme apprend a cette heure et dut apprendre a Taurore des 
temps, les premieres lois de la morale, cet ensemble des prescrip- 
tions permettant aux hommes la vie en commun. 


On sait en effet que Freud a trouve, au centre du psychisme 
inconscient de tout homme, de toute femme, nevroses ou dits 
bien portants, les traces indelebiles de ce qu'il a appele le complexe 
d'Gidipe. L'enfant, en depit des prcjuges encore trop souvent 
en cours, n'est nullement un " innocent " ; sa sexualite s'eveille 
avec la vie. Certes une sexualite differente de celle de Tadulte, 
mais une sexualite aspirant, sur son mode epars, inacheve, 
aux satisfactions sensuelles. Ainsi le petit garfon convoite pour 
lui toute la tendresse, toutes les caresses maternelles, avec desir 
d'elimination du p&re, rival genant ; ainsi la fille, aprte une 
premiere periode d'attachement a la m&re, reproduit, en inversant 
les r&les, la meme double attitude envers le pfere aime et la mfere 

Or, voici que Freud, etendant sa vision au delk du chevet 
de ses analyses, a su voir que le complexe d'CEdipe est 1'heritage 
commun de toute Thumanitd. Cas particulier du conflit entre 


males qui domine la vie sexuelle de tons les mammif feres, cas dans 
lequel le pfere, en tant que male le plus proche, est pris d'abord 
pour rival, comme la mfere pour premier objet d'amour, le 
complexe humain put sans doute, par 1'homme, etre " surmonte ", 
en vertu justement de la longue enfance d^volue par la nature 
a 1' animal humain. 

La sexualite humaine evolue en effet en deux temps : la 
premiere floraison, qui s'epanouit vers la ciuquifeme on sixi&me 
annee, avec le complexe d'GEdipe, est bientdt suivie de l&periode 
de latence, pendant laquelle la sexualite de 1'enfant s'endort, 
tandis que se constituent en lui, sous la pression educative de 
son entourage, et sans doute aussi de son atavisme qui 1'y rend 
receptif, les reflexes de la pudeur, du degout, de 1'esthetique, 
de la morale. A la puberte seulement, lorsque muriront les glandes 
sexuelles, la libido se reveillera, avec une vigueur accrue, re- 
activant les restes du complexe d'CEdipe. La resultante des 
inhibitions creees pendant la periode de latence, oil la libido 
infantile se laissait encore endiguer, avec la poussee pub&re de 
la libido qui s'oppose apr&s coup plus ou moins victorieusement 
a ces inhibitions, constitue enfin la sexualite individuelle adulte 
de chaque etre humain. 


L'ethnographie, par les faits qu'elle nous apporte, nous 
permet de verifier la validite universelle des lois presidant a 
cette evolution. 

Les societes primitives connaissent en effet deux grandes 
institutions dont 1'origine a longtemps defie la sagacit6 des 
chercheurs : le totemisme et 1'exogamie. Maintes hypotheses 
en ont ete proposees, mais nous, psychanalystes, pensons que 
seule la psychanalyse a eclaire d'un jour vraiment penetrant 
la genfese de ces deux institutions primitives fondameritales. 

Freud, en effet, s'appuyant sur rimmense documentation 
contenue dans les ouvrages de Sir James Frazer, a montre que 
les prescriptions de Texogamie comme celles du totemisme 
correspondent aux deux grandes interdictions culturelles qui 
s'opposent a la realisation du complexe d'CEdipe. Si le primitif 
soumis a 1'exogamie n'a pas le droit d'avoir des rapports sexuels 
avec les femmes de son clan, c'est que ces femmes sont toutes, 
par " deplacement ", contagion si Ton peut dire, des femmes 
de sa famille, des " meres " ou des tf soeurs ". C'est un inceste 
elargi qu'il commettrait en s'accouplant a elles. 

De meme, dans le totemisme, la veneration de 1'animal totem, 
la protection que 1'on croit qu'il accorde a ceux de son clan, et 
Tinterdiction de le tuer, et bien d'autres indices encore, font 
voir que le totem (lequel est expressement qualifie par les primitifs 


d'ancetre de leur clan) est pour eux un substitut du " p&re ". 
C'est 1'antique defense oedipienne du parricide qui s'est 
" deplac^e " sur 1'animal totem. 

Le " retour infantile du totemisme " peut d'ailleurs s'observer 
dans les phobies d'animaux de tant de nos enfants. Le loup, le 
cheval, le chien, et autres animaux, sont, pour 1'enfant qu'ils 
terrifient, autant de substituts du p&re a la fois aime et redoute. 
L'enfant reproduit d'ailleurs en general, au cours de son 
evolution, les attitudes du primitif. La loi biogenetique se 
verifie au psychique comme au physique ; 1'ontogenie y reproduit 
la phylogenie. L'importance de ce phenomfcne est tres grande, 
car rien ne s'effa?ant de 1'inconscient au cours de la vie, chacun 
de nous est comparable a un document ou se serait inscrite, 
certes en abrege, toute 1'histoire et la prchistoire de 1'humanite. 
C'est ce qui permet au psychanalyste, au cours de son long, 
minutieux et difficile travail, de retrouver, au fond de Tinconscient 
du plus civilise des hommes, ces vestiges des temps disparus, 
les modes de reaction archaiques de ses ancetres primitif s. 

Ces vestiges, une fois mis au jour, rien n'est plus instructif 
que de les comparer a ce que nous pouvons observer des prim it if s 
reels peuplant encore la terre, et c'est ici que Fethnographie et 
la psychanalyse, comme nous 1'avons deja indique, peuvent 
reciproquement s'eclairer. 


On voit alors que 1'experience clinique psychanalytique et 
1' observation ethnographique se competent, et demontrent, 
par la concordance de leurs resultats, Tunite fondamentale du 
psychisme humain, 1'universalite des lois qui le regissent. 

Aprfes Texemple fourni par le totemisme, celui apporte par 
Tetude genetique de la morale le montrera. 

L'ethnographie avait apporte, sans en comprendre encore 
toute la portce, une contribution importante a Tctude de 1'origine 
de la morale. Elle nous avait en effet appris a connaitre letabou 
des primitifs. Mais la psychanalyse a, a son tour, apporte a 
1'ethnographie une contribution inestimable en montrant la 
parente, que dis-je ? 1'identite du tabou des primitifs avec les 
commandements et les interdictions de la nevrose obsessionnelle, 
et de la, avec I'impdratif categorique de toute conscience morale. 

L'ecole sociologique avait eu le merite de poser le 
caractfere exclusivement social de toute morale ; la psychanalyse 
a tente de mettre au jour la genkse de celle-ci. Reprenant 
I'hypothfcse de Darwin sur la horde primitive., Freud a expose 
comment le parricide primitif avait du engendrer, dans la horde 
des fr&res triomphants, d'abord le remords, puis, par resurrection 


du pre disparu dans Tanimal totem que Ton ne doit plus tuer 
et par 1'exogamie que Ton doit respecter, la premifere morale. 

Les contributions respectives de 1'ethnographie et de la 
psychanalyse en ce qui touche a Tanimisme et a la magie nous 
fourniront encore un nouvel exemple de leur teconde collaboration. 

On sait Tetonnement et le mepris qu'inspirent & tant de 
civilises les croyances de I'animisme, les pratiques de la magie 
chez les sauvages en depit de ce fait, d'ailleurs, que tant de 
croyance animiste subsiste parmi nous dans les diverses super- 
stitions populaires. 

Or, des ethnographes avaient bien su voir que la magie, chez 
les sauvages, poursuit Tobtention de la nourriture, a pour but 
la multiplication ou la prise de possession de celle-ci, par la 
peche ou la chasse ; ils avaient bien vu encore qu'elle vise sou vent 
la conquete des femmes, I'augmentation et la preservation de 
la puissance virile, ou bien, par les charmes hostiles, Telimination 
des ennemis et des rivaux, et par les charmes conjuratoires 
Teloignement des demons dont Tanimisme pcuple le monde ; 
des explorateurs avaient aussi decrit par le menu les diverses 
pratiques magiques des diverses tribus, mais toutes ces observa- 
tions et constatations restaient en de^a de la comprehension de 
T essence de la magie en soi. 

Pour definir un couteau, il ne suffit en effet pas de le decrire 
en disant : le couteau est un instrument qui sert & couper le 
pain, le fromage, etc. ; il convient aussi de savoir si le couteau 
est en silex ou en acier. 

Or, c'est de la mati&re dont est constitute la magie que la 
psychanalyse s'est occupee. Par la comparaison avec les 
phenomfenes de la nevrose obsessionnelle, ou 1'obsede attribue 
a ses moindres desirs, a ses moindres idees un pouvoir souverain, 
la psychanalyse a la premiere compris que la magie, " technique 
de Fanimisme ", est basee sur la " toute-puissance des pensees " 
que s'attribuait I'homme au stade infantile, archaique, du 

Le nourrisson, alors, quand il avait faim, ne voyait-il pas 
accourir sa m&re ? La mtre, au debut, ne satisfaisait-elle pas, et 
sans qu'il eut besoin meme de parler, ses premiers desirs ? 
L'homme alors grandi continuera parfois a attribuer a Tunivers, 
mfere elargie, la meme condescendance, et k lui-meme le meme 
souverain pouvoir. L'education a la realite a beau apprendre a 
1'enfant grandissant la limitation de sa puissance, le principe 
de plaisir, qui regit Tinconscient, y demeure, et tend a maintenir 
au fond de Thomme, sous 1'influence du desir, la croyance a 
son propre pouvoir souverain. La difference entre le primitif 
et le civilise consiste alors en ceci que ce qui est rest assez apparent 
chez le premier est bien plus cach6, refoule, chez le second. 


Je me rends compte de la difficulte qu'il yak exposer en 
quelques pages des questions d'une telle complexity surtout 
& des lecteurs dont sans doute une grande partie n'a jamais 
pu etudier une nevrose obsessionnelle, cette nevrose qui nous 
restitue mieux qu'aucune autre manifestation psychique les modes 
de penser archaique de 1'enfant et du primitif . Je dois cependant 
me borner. Qu'il me suffise d'indiquer encore le jour dont la 
psychanalyse a clair les trois grandes eres qu'a traversees 
1'humanite : 1'animiste, la religieuse et la scientifique. 

L'ere de I'animisme, oil le monde apparait a I'homme anthro- 
pomorphiquement peuple de demons que la magie apprend 
a conjurer, correspond d'apr&s elle a ce stade infantile du 
narcissisme, ou 1'enfant s'attribuait encore la toute-puissance 
sur 1'univers, et dont nous venons de parler. Puis 1'humanite 
semble etre entree, le pere reel, humain, ressurgissant sous le 
totem primitif, au regne des grands dieux a figure redevenue 
humaine : Osiris, Zeus ou Jehovah. Alors l'homme, ayant du 
reconnaitre la limitation de son propre pouvoir narcissique, 
rempla9a la technique de I'animisme, qui etait la magie, par la 
priere, technique de la religion, employee par 1'homme qui ne 
saurait done renoncer a obtenir la realisation de ses desirs. Le 
p&re est ici prie de realiser les desirs du fils. 

Mais les dieux eux-memes s'effacent de 1'horizon humain, 
comme le p&re vieilli disparait de celui de 1'enfant devenu homme. 
L'humanite commence a entrer par une elite seulement 
d'ailleurs au stade scientifique. Et rhomme renonce alors a 
obtenir la realisation de ses desirs par la priere, par la faveur 
d'un pre exalte imaginaire : il ne 1'obtiendra plus que de lui- 
meme, non plus par la technique de la magie, mais par celle, 
par exemple, de Tingenieur. Cependant les grands maux 
inevitables conferes par le destin, la vieillesse, la mort, il ne lui 
reste plus alors qu'a les subir avec le sentiment stoi'que d'accepter 
les lois de la nature. Cela est dur. Aussi l'homme, le savant 
lui-meme, garde-t-il toujours, enfouis en quelque recoin obscur 
de lui-meme, des vestiges du mode de penser religieux et meme 


Je sais que la psychanalyse est loin d'etre en faveur auprfes 
de la plupart des ethnographes. Aux " diffusionnistes ", elle 
apparait au moins superflue. A certains " evolutionnistes ", 
61oignes ou ignorants de ses disciplines, elle semble trop 
hypothetique. Les adeptes de 1'ecole " fonctionnelle " la trouvent 
souvent aussi hypothetique, mais surtout trop " evolutionniste ". 

De plus, les ethnographes sont des hommes, et par la restent 
soumis aux lois du psychisme humain. Us ne sont pas indemnes 


des resistances que rencontre un peu partout la psychanalyse, 
et qui sont dues, comme Freud l'a si bien montre, a la blessure 
profonde qu'elle constitue au narcissisme humain. Celui-ci 
ne peut lui pardonner d' avoir montre, par la decouverte du 
determinisme rigoureux emane de 1'inconscient, que Thomme 
n'est pas maitre en sa propre maison. II ne peut davantage lui 
passer d'avoir revele le contenu de cet inconscient, tout impregne 
de sexualite ; 1'importance du sexuel dans la vie de ce noble 
animal qu'est 1'homme heurte de front 1'idee que 1'homme se 
fait de sa propre " dignite ". La verite est que, pour pouvoir 
juger sciemment de la veridicite generate de la psychanalyse, 
et par suite de sa validite particuliere pour les sciences ethno- 
graphiques, il faut la connaitre, et pour la connaitre il ne suffit 
pas d'avoir feuillete ou meme lu des ouvrages de psychanalyse. 
Car il n'est qu'un seul livre ou se puisse vraiment apprendre la 
psychanalyse : son propre psychisme personnel. II faut soi- 
meme avoir ete analyse pour pouvoir juger de la valeur de la 

Mais, quoique certains en pensent, la psychanalyse a apportc 
a la science de la vie primitive une contribution qui ne saurait 
etre negligee. II y a en effet deux grandes faces sur lesquelles 
peut s'etudier toute societe humaine, voire tout etre humain : 
la face economique et la psychologique. 

On sait que 1'ecole " materialiste " considere que les ideologies 
d'une societe donnee, comme d'un homme donne, sont strictement 
determinees par les conditions materielles oil cette societe ou 
cet homme doivent vivre. On ne saurait certes nier I'importance 
de ce facteur, mais a cote des instincts anaux en rapport avec 
la matiere, il y a dans rhomme les instincts libidinaux proprement 
sexuels, qui semblent plus independants des conditions 

Une double etude des conditions de vie des societes comme 
des hommes s'impose ainsi a tout ethnographe. L'importance 
de la sexualite dans la vie humaine fait qu'aucune etude de 
Thomme ne saurait aller bien loin qui neglige en lui les manifesta- 
tions multiformes, des plus crues aux plus modifiees, de cet 
instinct. Or, pour etudier la sexualite d'un etre humain, la 
connaissance de la psychanalyse est irrempla?able. De meme 
que tout psychanalyste devrait etre quelque peu ethnographe, 
de meme tout ethnographe devrait etre au moins quelque peu 

Et le temps nous presse, par ailleurs. D'ici peut-etre cent 
ans, mais peut-etre meme avant, les primitifs que porte encore 
la terre seront ou elimines, ou plus au moins entames par nos 
civilisations. Ceux qui restent encore sont les precieux et 
fugitifs temoins d'un temps disparu. Certes, ils different tons de 
nos ancetres du temps des cavernes, ils ont subi a leur fa9on une 


Evolution aussi longue que la ndtre a partir de ce temps, mais 
enfin ils le refletent un peu plus fidelement que nous, citoyens 
de Londres ou de Paris. 

II faut se hater d'etudier ces vestiges survivants de Thumanite 
primitive. Et il faut, sans prdjuges moraux, religieux ou esthe- 
tiques, sans pudibondesie, tacher d'observer et comprendre 
rinte*gralite de la vie primitive. C'est ce qu'ont deja tente 
de faire, chacun a sa faon, un Seligman, un Malinowski, un 
Roheim. C'est ce que feront, il faut 1'esperer, leurs continuateurs. 

Dans cette investigation qui nous apprend, a la lumiere de 
la vie d'autres hommes, d'une vie aux formes differentes et 
semblables pourtant, a mieux nous connaitre nous-memes, la 
psychanalyse seule peut porter le flambeau dans les plus obscures 


The institution of cross-cousin marriage is of considerable 
importance in the Hehe social structure. Numerically, it accounts 
for one-quarter of all marriages, a proportion far in excess of 
what might be expected from chance, 2 and the attempt to dis- 
cover the determinants of such marriages involves an examina- 
tion of some of the most fundamental facts of Hehe social 
organization. 3 

Of the cross-cousin marriages recorded, about four-fifths 
are between men and the daughters of their maternal uncles, 
the remaining fifth between men and the daughters of their 
paternal aunts. Not all these marriages are between " first " 
cross-cousins, they include marriages between cousins once or 
further removed, and even between people who are only classified 
as cousins, but who are not related by blood at all. It is, neverthe- 
less, possible to treat them as one kind of marriage, because they 
all show certain characteristics distinguishing cross-cousin 
marriages from marriages between people not kindred. 

This large proportion of marriages between cross-cousins 
justifies the statement that this is a preferred marriage. It is 
well, however, to assign a precise meaning to the word 
" preferred ". In reading accounts of several other tribes, the 
impression carried away is that cross-cousin marriage is preferred 
in that every man tries to marry a cross-cousin, and only marries 
a woman who is not a kinswoman when he fails to get a cross- 
cousin. This is not the case with the Hehe. The cross-cousin 

1 Grateful acknowledgements are made to the Rockefeller Foundation, 
through whose generosity two field-expeditions to the Hehe were made possible, 
and to the International Institute of African Languages and Cultures, who gave 
additional assistance to the second expedition. Acknowledgments are due to 
Professor B. Malinowski, Professor A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, and Brenda Z. 
Seligman. Their writings and teachings have contributed greatly to the present 
analysis of cross-cousin marriage. It is regretted that absence of an adequate 
library in the field renders more specific references impossible. 

2 This proportion and the others given below were arrived at by an analysis 
of about 160 marriages. An analysis of marriages in another area of the tribe 
gives nearly the same result. It should be added that clan descent is patrilineal. 

3 The Hehe are a Bantu tribe occupying the Iringa district of Iringa Province, 
Tanganyika Territory. Their numbers are given provisionally as 50,000 to 
60,000. Accounts of their social organization have been given by E. Nigmann, 
Die Wahehe, Berlin, 1908 ; by O. Dempwolff, " Beitrage zur Volksbeschreibung 
der Hehe," Baessler-Archiv, Band IV, Heft 3, 1913 ; and by G. Gordon Brown, 
" Bride-wealth among the Hehe," Africa, vol. v, No. 2, 1932, and " Legitimacy 
and Paternity among the Hehe ", American Journal of Sociology, vol. xxxviii, 
No. 2, September, 1932. 



marriage is preferred only in that, proportionate to the possible 
marriages within the community, more marriages take place 
between cross-cousins than between people not kindred, or 
between people related in a different manner. It is the purpose 
of this paper to show under what circumstances such marriages 
take place, why they are preferred, and the manner in which 
they are related to the total social organization. 

It is convenient to begin by giving native opinion on 
the matter. We collected the opinions of many informants ; 
the following text states the native point of view most 
comprehensively. 1 

A free translation is as follows: "Some people marry their 
cross-cousins because they realize that they are not of the group 
with whom marriage is forbidden. A child of an uncle (i.e. a 
nephew) says, ' I shall go and court my cousin, the child of my 
uncle, because we are related ; they will give her to me, they 
will not refuse me, if my cousin loves me ; my uncle will give 
her to me out of the kindness of his heart [literally " from a white 
liver"] because I am the child of his sister/ 

" Again, if there is the child of a paternal aunt, the boy goes, 
he says, ' I shall court my cousin, the child of my aunt, for I 
am the child of her brother, I know we shall agree well, she, as 
the girl's mother will not refuse me, for I am as her child, and 
we are members of the same clan/ Thus the cousins become 

" Other people think thus : ' Let the children marry cross- 
cousins, so that the relationship will not be lost, so that it will 

" But there are others who forbid their children to marry 
cross-cousins, they think it is not good. They say, ' If you marry 
a cross-cousin the relationship will become lost ; for if the children 
fight they will go to law about it, the girl will get a divorce and 
leave her husband, who is her cousin. Then the parents will 
hate each other ; the mother of the boy will hate her brother, 
the father of the girl, and the father of the girl will hate his sister, 
the mother of the boy. For she will say, " You, you taught 
your daughter to leave my child/' and the father of the girl will 
say, " And you, you taught him to beat my child/' If they quarrel 
thus they will hate each other and the members of the family 
will become estranged/ 

" Thus some forbid their children to marry a cousin, again 
others like their children to marry cousins, they believe it to be 

It is not suggested that a native explanation is always 
sociologically satisfactory, but I believe that this text, properly 

1 The native text has been omitted for reasons of space, as a complete 
translation of it is given. 


expanded, is an adequate explanation of cross-cousin marriage 
among the Hehe. 

To begin with there is the suggestion of the difficulty of getting 
a wife ; " my uncle will not refuse me ", " my aunt will not 
refuse me/' It is an article of Hehe belief that wives are hard to 
get, and in fact courtship is a difficult matter. There is first the 
fact, among a polygynous people, that most young girls when they 
attain maturity have many men seeking to marry them ; the 
competition is always keen. Secondly, young girls quickly 
appreciate their position and become difficult, Finally, a suitor 
is generally opposed by the bulk of the girl's family, and 
even when it is decided to accept the suitor ceremonial op- 
position and delays continue. Of all three factors making 
marriage difficult, the real and ceremonial opposition of the 
family is the most important and deserves more detailed 

When a man decides he wants to marry a certain girl, he must 
first get her consent. 1 This is sometimes easily obtained, but 
oftener than not it takes some time and trouble. This gained, 
his troubles only begin. He must next win over the parents, 
first the mother, then the father. This is done both informally 
and ceremonially. Informally he tries to break down the real 
opposition of the parents ; ceremonially he must send an inter- 
mediary with a hoe, who pays court for him in stereotyped phrases, 
and who is ceremonially refused, until, and if, the real opposition 
subsides. The suitor must also break down other opposition. 
A grandparent of the girl, an elder sister or brother, even possibly 
an uncle or aunt, may be exerting influence where they have no 
authority. In brief, the presumption is always against the suitor 
who offers himself, and while some suits meet with only ceremonial 
opposition, many must overcome real obstacles. Courtship is 
considered so hazardous by the men that there are special 
medicines to aid it. These medicines are not love philtres ; they 
are, it is true, given to the girl herself, without her knowledge, 
but the aim of them is to overcome the complex obstacles that 
confront every courtship. The high price paid for them is an index 
of their felt need. Ordinary courtship-medicine costs a bull ; 
a particularly powerful medicine of which we know costs a cow 
and a bull ; and the user must also commit incest with a sister 
to make it efficacious. 

The formal and ceremonial obstacles to marriage are nearly 
as bad as the real and personal ones. The intermediary who 
carries the hoe is returned time after time over a period of at 

1 Before European occupation, our informants tell us, the consent of the 
girl was not needed, her father disposed of her as he would. There is no way 
of checking this statement by observed fact. It seems at least probable that the 
girl had less freedom of choice than now. 


least a month, occasionally for several months. When the girl's 
parents decide to give way the intermediary is told to come on 
a certain day, when the betrothal ceremony is to be held. The 
suitor sends a party of intermediaries, three or four people. 
They come as suppliants. They are asked their business, and the 
genealogy and character of the suitor are discussed frankly. Any 
cause of quarrel between the family of the suitor and that of the 
girl must be settled ; the girl's male relatives sit in judgment 
and any compensation for injury must be paid by the suitor's 
family. This part of the ceremony is not mere formality. We 
have never seen a suitor rejected at this stage. But at one 
betrothal he was judged to have failed in courtesy and was at first 
refused ; the party broke up, and it was only reassembled because 
the father of the girl feared the censure of the neighbourhood. 
After these affairs are threshed out, the girl picks up the hoe as 
the sign of consent to the betrothal, bride-wealth (mafungu) 
is stated, and the rejoicing begins. Kulumba is " to agree upon 
the mafungu " ; valumbite, " they have settled the bride- wealth/' 
implies that the first formal stage towards marriage has been 

After the betrothal the suitor has certain rights over the 
girl ; he can, for example, exact compensation for adultery if 
anyone lies with her ; but he is not yet married, and he is still 
in the position of a suppliant. At the marriage ceremony (luwungo) 
his family must again submit to judgment upon their misdeeds 
to the bride's family. If the mafungu has not all been collected, 
his intermediaries must beg for terms. Various small payments 
must be made to the mother, to the father, and to the bride her- 
self. He knows no peace until the father finally consents to let 
the girl go away, although there have been rejoicings for several 
hours. His final position as husband is gained with great difficulty 
and only after repeated supplications. 

These obstacles to marriage are obviously not intended to 
make marriage impossible. At the same time they are not empty 
ceremonial. They are personal and social expressions of a real 
reluctance to part with a member of the family, and are specifically 
directed to the person who is actually taking the daughter away. 
Of course, the daughter is not taken away absolutely or for 
ever. She does not cease to be a member of her own family ; 
she frequently visits her parents ; she is still addressed by the 
name of her clan ; and she can always in emergency receive 
help and shelter from her father or brother. At the same time, 
she leaves the home ; her society, her economic services, her 
obedience, are now due to her husband. In a limited but very 
real sense she passes into the possession of a stranger ; and the 
family, although they must eventually give way to one man or 
another, resist her loss. Hehe marriage is, therefore, a socially 


regulated act of hostility, 1 and many of the real and imagined 
difficulties of getting a wife arise from that fact. 

In about three-quarters of Hehe marriages, these difficulties 
are overcome, and marriage takes place between people not 
related by kinship, or related so distantly that the kinship bond 
is of little importance. The other quarter comprises marriages 
between cross-cousins ; as our text shows, in such marriages the 
man reckons on the support of at least one parent of the child, a 
maternal uncle or a paternal aunt. Why these particular relatives 
are chosen requires a partial account of Hehe kinship. 

The Hehe enter into effective relationship with a large circle 
of kindred, but we are here concerned with only a comparatively 
small group. This group includes a man's parents, his father's 
brothers and sisters, and his mother's brothers and sisters, in 
the ascendant generation, and, in his own generation, the children 
of all these people. It will be noted later that cross-cousin 
marriage sometimes means marriage between people somewhat 
distantly related, for example, between what we should call 
second or even more distant cousins. But the nature of cross- 
cousin marriage is determined by the relationships existing 
within the more limited group. Hence an analysis of these 
relationships will serve the present purpose. 

A Hehe man grows up knowing, and recognizing as members 
of his close kindred, a group of girls and women any one of whom 
he refers to and addresses as miihatsa vangu, " my sister ". They 
refer to and address him by the same term. These women are, 
first and closest, the daughters of his father (dado) and mother 
(yuva) 2 ; these are pre-eminently his vahatsa. The members of 
the next group consist of the daughters of his father, but of a 
different mother ; they are nearly, but not quite, as close to him 
as the daughters of his own mother. The next members of the 
group consist of what we should call his female first cousins, and 
they divide into four sub-groups. There are the daughters of his 
father's brothers (he addresses each of these men as dada, 
" my father "). All of this group he will know well, unless his own 
father has moved far from his original home ; and even then he 
will probably have visited them. The Hehe reckon descent 
patrilineally, so that these women bear his own clan-name, and his 
own praise-name, and avoid eating the same animal. 3 Equally 
close to him, in fact, though there is not the bond of a common 

1 Acknowledgments are due to Professor Radcliffe-Brown for the develop- 
ment of this point of view. 

2 The term dada undergoes certain changes ; thus dada is " my father ", 
udado " your father ", udade " his father ", udadetu "our father ", udadenyu 
" your (pi.) father ", udadawo " their father ". Yuva " my mother ", yaya 
" my maternal uncle ", and yuva hengi " my paternal aunt " are treated 
similarly. For the sake of convenience I have used the simplest forms throughout. 

3 Cf. G. G. Brown, " Paternity and Legitimacy among the Hehe/' Amer. 
Journ. Sociol. September, 1932, pp. 187-8. 


clan, are the daughters of his mother's sisters (whom he also calls 
yuva t " my mother "). These he will also know well ; his mother 
will often visit her mother, will meet her sisters there, with their 
children; and the child himself will frequently stay with his 
maternal grandmother for months at a time, playing with his 
mother's sisters' children, who are also visiting her, as though 
they were his own brothers and sisters. Similarly, at the residence 
of his grandmother, he will meet the children of his maternal 
uncle, yaya, and in childhood and in early youth will refer to 
and address the girls as muhatsa vangu. The children of his 
paternal aunt, yuvahengi, he may or may not know well, according 
to circumstances ; she may have married a distance away, and 
between her children and himself there is not the bond of a 
common clan, nor of common childhood memories ; but he will 
have paid her, at least, visits of ceremony, and her daughters will 
also be vahatsa. Besides these closer relatives there will be women 
of the same generation whom he must also recognize as vahatsa ; 
members of his clan, descendants from a common great-grand- 
parent ; and people related to him only by marriage. But the 
bond implied by the term muhatsa wears very thin with distance 
of kinship, and it is his sisters and his first cousins of whom he 
thinks primarily when he uses the term muhatsa vangu. 

The bqnd implied by the term muhatsa is thus one of close 
kinship between members of the opposite sex, close intimacy, 
an attitude of protection as man and woman grow older. The 
mutual obligations are primarily obligations of full brother and 
sister, but they are extended to first cousins. The, bond between 
those calling each other muhatsa creates another relationship, 
that eventually divides the first cousins into two groups. At 
a comparatively early age the incest bar colours the relationship 
of the boy to some of his vahatsa. 

Practically all children indulge in sexual play, probably 
from the age of eight or nine years old, but by that time both 
boys and girls have learned that there are some members of the 
opposite sex with whom such play is forbidden. It is mwiko 
(forbidden, with the suggestion of an undefined supernatural 
punishment) to commit any act, or say any word that has a sugges- 
tion of sexual significance about it. Certain persons are vakwi (for- 
bidden sexually) , and the boy must quickly learn who they are, not 
only to avoid the supernatural curse, but to avoid the much more 
real parental punishment. Of his vahatsa he learns that some are 
vakwi, others are not. And it soon comes to him that the vahatsa 
who are vakwi are really and always his vahatsa ; those vahatsa 
who are not vakwi may also be referred to as vahitsi (sing, muhitsi) . 
Thus the distinction is gradually made, that his father's and his 
father's brothers' daughters, members of his own clan, are vakwi 
(forbidden sexually), and also his mother's sisters' daughters. 


On the other hand his mother's brothers' daughters and his 
father's sisters' daughters are not vakwi ; he may indulge in sexual 
play and sexual badinage with them. 

It has been necessary to show these differences in detail 
because of the two important implications of the term muhatsa. 
Primarily, it connotes close kinship between members of the 
opposite sex and of the same generation ; secondarily, it signifies 
the existence of the incest bar. In its first meaning, it is used 
as a term of affectionate reference and address to all women 
who are kindred as described ; in its second meaning, it is applied 
only to actual sisters and parallel cousins. Thus in referring to, 
but not addressing, a female cross-cousin, a Hehe man will use 
the term muhitsi vangu, when the occasion demands exact 
definition. 1 

These observations on the use of the two terms are generaliza- 
tions of a host of complex social activities and do not give the full 
truth. The Hehe domestic groups live under such a variety of 
conditions that any generalization is a falsification of many 
individual cases ; for example, in some families the difference 
between muhatsa and muhitsi as terms of reference is made from 
the beginning, but in general the foregoing observations are true. 

It is thus clear that a Hehe man seeking a wife may marry a 
woman within the close circle of kinship. As a boy he may have 
played sexual games with her ; as a youth he may have had an 
intrigue with her ; in his early maturity the existence of intimate 
personal bonds may have ripened into a mutual desire for 
marriage. Indeed, it is in many cases just this reason and no 
other that causes cross-cousin marriage. Attraction is based 
upon long-standing acquaintance ; cross-cousin marriage is the 
first marriage sought by both parties, and no further explanation 
is needed. 

But this does not account for a large number of cross-cousin 
marriages. And it is these other marriages that cause cross- 
cousin marriages to be " preferred " in the sense described. A 
youth receives several rebuffs in seeking a wife He cannot gain 
the affection of a girl ; if he gets that far he may not overcome 
the opposition of parents or other relatives ; marriage-medicines, 
if used, fail. In discouragement, sometimes at the invitation of 
the maternal uncle or the paternal aunt, he courts the daughter ; 
the way is made easy for him, and he at last gets a wife. 

As already noted, four-fifths of cross-cousin marriages are 
between men and their maternal uncles' daughters. This may 
be regarded as the typical Hehe cross-cousin marriage. The 
question thus arises, What are the particular determining factors ? 
The negative one, the absence of an incest bar, has already been 
dealt with. A positive one, the presence of a sympathetic parent 
1 Muhitsi is also applied to a male cross-cousin. 


in place of a hostile one, has been mentioned. Beyond all this, 
there is something in the nature of the relationship between 
a man and his maternal uncle that adds a further factor. 

Our text says, " my uncle will give her to me out of the kind- 
ness of his heart, because I am the son of his sister. 1 ' The maternal 
uncle is thus expected to show particular kindness to his sister's 
son. This attitude grows from the elementary family circle. 
When young, brother and sister live in the closest intimacy, 
only one field of interest, that of sex, being barred. When the 
woman grows up and marries, she still looks to her own family 
for ultimate protection. First, she depends upon her father ; 
when he becomes aged or dies his son, her brother, becomes head 
of the family, assuming all property and legal obligations to 
his sister. These obligations to a sister often involve considerable 
expenditure of time and money. If a woman leaves her husband, 
she goes to her brother for protection, and may live for months 
in his household. If she gets a divorce, her brother must repay 
the bride-wealth (mafungu) received from her husband on her 
marriage. If she gets into a legal dispute, the brother supports 
her in court. In short, he assumes all obligations to protect 
and support her, and thus to the child, at such times, the mother's 
brother is head of the family. 

There is a difference between a man's attitude to his father 
and his father's brothers on the one hand, and to his maternal 
uncle on the other hand, and it is based upon the difference 
between the functions of the two sexes. In a patrilineal tribe 
like the Hehe, the father and his family represent authority. 
There is usually tenderness as well, but fundamentally the father 
gives the child his social position, and generally directs his 
activities to a great degree before maturity, to a less degree 
afterwards. The mother represents tenderness and protection. 
She has no direct authority over the child after his earlier years 
(though she has very great influence), but he turns to her and 
in a less degree to her sisters (whom he also calls yuva, " my 
mother ") when paternal pressure becomes too hard, or when in 
disagreement with his father. The mother's brother, the maternal 
uncle, represents thus two things. First, he is a man of the 
ascendant generation, and according to Hehe standards entitled 
to great respect ; and secondly, he is a member of the mother's 
line, and therefore fundamentally represents protection. As 
a male, the maternal uncle gets respect ; but since he has no 
authority over the child the Hehe solve the problem by making 
this respect very ceremonious ; a host of minor polite observances 
are due the maternal uncle. In the general run of Hehe life this 
anomalous position, and the ceremony surrounding the relation- 
ship of uncle (yayd) to nephew (mwipwa), prevent any direct 
interference with the actions of the nephew. But in an emergency 


the uncle may be appealed to by the nephew, or may intervene, 
unasked, on the nephew's behalf. Such emergencies are rare, and 
will not occur in the life of everybody, but we have recorded 
several. One case was that of a young boy, who was living with 
his father, and who received harsh treatment from his stepmother, 
his own mother being divorced. He ran away from his father, 
and went to the home of his maternal uncle. The uncle not only 
sheltered him, but supported him during the legal disputes that 
followed. In another case a woman was beaten to death by 
her husband. Her horrified relatives immediately took her children 
away, and they were brought up in the household of their mother's 
brother. Thus the maternal uncle, as head of the mother's family, 
can, and does, intervene on behalf of his sister's children, over- 
riding paternal authority in cases of emergency. 

Such an emergency arises when a man reaches the age of 
marriage and is unable to find a wife. His father's brothers can- 
not help him, because their daughters belong to his own clan, 
and it is not their specific function. His maternal uncle can, and 
often will help him. Hence the appeal to the maternal uncle, or his 
voluntary intervention when he sees his nephew's plight, is a 
very frequent solution of the marriage difficulty. 

With the paternal aunt (yuvahengi) the relationship is some- 
what different. She is a female of the paternal line ; that is, 
she is a person without authority herself, but belongs to the 
authority-owning group. The result is much the same in formal 
observance as with the maternal uncle ; she is treated with 
ceremonious respect, to an even greater degree than the uncle. 
At the same time, she maintains a very great interest in her 
brothers' children. She is among the first to visit them 
ceremonially after birth, and she expects them to visit her when 
she is ill. When they become mature she may render them various 
services. In one case, for example, a paternal aunt undertook 
all the exacting business of negotiating a marriage, and arranging 
all the ceremonial courtship. But, generally speaking, she has 
not the same rights of intervention that a maternal uncle has. 
An appeal to her is, therefore, based somewhat differently ; 
she is appealed to as a close relative, and as possessing the 
additional bond of membership in the same clan. According 
to Hehe kinship-values these grounds are, on the whole, weaker 
than those upon which the appeal to the uncle is based. More- 
over, she has not a man's authority over her daughter ; however 
strong her influence, her husband has the final word in the disposal 
of their daughter, and he may have nephews of his own whom he 
wishes to favour. Thus the marriage of a man with the daughter 
of his father's sister only occurs one-quarter as often as that of 
a man with the daughter of his mother's brother. 

Up till now there has been no discussion as to what particular 


kind of maternal uncle or paternal aunt is appealed to. Obviously, 
when one's mother has so many men she calls muhatsa, the child 
knows many men as yaya. It has been noted that the relationship 
between a man and his maternal uncle grows out of the original 
family group ; the brother is the protector of his sister. When 
a woman's father dies, the man she looks to first for protection 
is her full brother, son of her own father and mother, and if there 
are more than one, she looks to the eldest. The mother's eldest 
brother is thus the primary yaya. But younger full brothers must 
equally lend their support, though the first appeal is made to 
the elder brother ; t they are thus vayaya to the same degree 
without the same onus of responsibility. But an examination 
of marriages into the family of the maternal uncle show that 
nearly half involve maternal uncles more distantly related ; 
mother's half-brothers, mother's parallel cousins, and even in 
a few cases men who are only maternal uncles by classification, 
not by blood. An example of the latter is that of a man who 
married a daughter of a brother of his mother's co-wife. He 
called the co-wife " mother " (yuva) but she was not related to 
him by blood ; he called the woman's brother yaya, an extreme 
extension of the term. When describing his relation to his wife 
he said she was " like a cross-cousin " (ndauli muhitsi vangu). 

Excluding this last case for the moment, it is seen that 
the appeal for a wife may be made to varying degrees of 
kin. Although the functions of maternal uncle are assumed in 
their entirety only by full brothers of one's mother, yet the 
extension of the term indicates an extension of the function, though 
the obligations are less in accordance with the remoteness of 
the kinship bond. Thus, an appeal to any person called yaya 
has some chance of success simply because all male members of 
one's mother's family in her generation assume to some degree 
the right to intervene or the obligation to respond to a request. 
In the same way, a paternal aunt who is not the full sister 
of a father may be induced to assist a man she calls " nephew " 

So far, two motives for cross-cousin marriage have been 
discussed ; reciprocal affection between the cousins themselves, 
based upon long acquaintance ; and the avoidance of all the 
conflict involved in marriage into a strange family. Our text 
next indicates another motive ; the deliberate arrangement of 
a marriage between cross-cousins so that the relationship shall 
not be lost. This requires expansion to be intelligible. 

Mention has already been made of some differences in the 
relationship of a man to his father's family and to his mother's 
family. Other differences now need to be added. A man is as 
much attached to his mother's family as to his father's, often 
even more attached. But at the same time his relationships to his 



father's family are more widespread than to the family of his 
mother. For membership in his father's family also implies 
membership in his father's clan. Clan membership is never lost, 
at least in Hehe theory. All direct patrilineal descendants of 
one male ancestor in the remote past constitute a group ; a group, 
it is true, of unknown extent, but still a group a member of which 
enjoys certain rights of and assumes certain obligations towards 
all other members of the group. Relationship to the father's family 
thus continues infinitely. On the other hand, one's relationship 
to one's mother's family is a matter of two generations only, 
or three at most ; at the same time it is something precious, 
and marriage into the mother's family will reaffirm the bond for 
another generation at least. 

Looking at the matter from the point of view of the uncle, 
similar motives are in play. The children of his sister belong to 
another clan ; his sister is his closest relative ; and to her 
children he has a peculiar but intimate relationship. If they 
marry strangers the bond will become diluted in another 
generation. The arrangement of a marriage will reaffirm that 
bond. That this motive is sometimes strong may be shown by 
several family histories ; cross-cousin marriage has persisted 
for two or three generations, a son of each cross-cousin marriage 
marrying back into his mother's family. It may schematically 
be represented thus : 

m and M, sister and brother, each marry ; m has a son, 
taking his father's clan name N l ; M has a daughter and a son, 
m and M v N t marries his cross-cousin m v Of this marriage 
a son is born taking his father's name N 2 . M^ has a daughter 
m 2 . N 2 marries m 2 > his cross-cousin. In each case the marriage 


reaffirms the bond with the mother's family m, and the relation- 
ship continues. 

Paradoxically, but quite comprehensibly, the value attached 
to the relationship to the mother's family is shown by a refusal 
to marry into it. Our text summarizes the danger so well that 
little need be added. Marriage is a risk, and if a marriage results 
in conflict both groups of parents are drawn into the quarrel 
with estrangement resulting. By some people, therefore, the bond 
is valued too much to be risked ; the relationship may die out 
in the future, but a very valued relationship exists in the present, 
and the following generations may look after themselves. 

Some of the details of cross-cousin marriage throw light 
upon its nature. These have been touched upon in a previous 
paper. 1 First, the mafungu (bride-wealth) is less. Ordinarily 
a man transfers 2 cows, i bull, 20 shillings, 2 sheep or goats, and 
3 hoes to his wife's family. In cross-cousin marriage, this is 
reduced ; i cow and i bull, 8 or 10 shillings, 2 sheep, and 3 hoes 
are generally demanded ; often even less. The reason lies in the 
fact that the mafungu is exacted to bind the marriage ; the 
greater the mafungu, the greater the bond. But in cross-cousin 
marriage a bond already exists ; therefore less property need 
be transferred to make the marriage endure. 

The other important difference is that the groom must bring 
to the wedding a special ox, which is not part of the mafungu but 
is slaughtered at the wedding, cut up in pieces and eaten by all 
attending members of both families. This ox is called the ndumula 
lukolo (the cutter of relationship) . It has been shown that a cross- 
cousin is in many ways treated as a sister ; she is addressed by 
the same term, she belongs to the intimate family group, she is 
only differentiated in the eyes of the growing boy as the 
importance of the incest bar is pressed upon him. Moreover, 
unless he marries her, he continues to address her and treat her 
as a sister. Her children call him yaya t (< maternal uncle," he 
calls the child mwipwa, " nephew " or " niece/' and he may even 
give to her son one of his daughters in marriage, and consider the 
marriage as a cross-cousin marriage in turn. Moreover, if a 
marriage does take place between their children he is in future 
debarred from marrying her, or from committing adultery with 
her. His daughters look upon her, and address her as yuvahengi 
" paternal aunt," and in addition she becomes " mother-in-law " 
(mukwi vangu) to the daughter who has married her son. Thus 
marriage between cross-cousins evokes two conflicting attitudes. 
On the one hand it is considered desirable, for the variety of 
reasons shown. On the other hand the relationship so resembles 
that between brother and sister that there is at least a suggestion 
of incest in such a union. Therefore the relationship must be 

1 G. Gordon Brown, " Bride-wealth among the Hehe," Africa, vol. v, No. 2. 


ceremonially " cut ", or severed. This is done by the deliberate 
slaughter and consumption of an ox devoted to that purpose. 

It remains to describe the relationship that exists between 
a man and his maternal uncle when that maternal uncle becomes 
also his father-in-law. In speech both terms yaya " uncle " 
and mukwi vangu " my father-in-law " may be used to refer to 
him, ordinarily he will be addressed as yaya. In action the 
ceremonious respect must merely be increased. The problem, in 
fact, is not difficult. Both to an uncle and to a father-in-law 
ceremonious respect is due ; to the father-in-law rather more 
than to the uncle ; thus to treat the latter as a father-in-law also 
fulfils one's social obligations of respect to an uncle. Without 
going into detail, the same is true of a paternal aunt who has 
become one's mother-in-law. 

To summarize, Hehe cross-cousin marriage is based upon two 
related facts in Hehe social organization ; upon the value set 
upon kinship bonds, and the potential hostility to those not so 
related. Fundamentally it arises from the close relationship 
between brother and sister. This relationship has its effect upon 
the attitude of each one towards the other's children. The man 
extends his protective attitude towards his sister to her children, 
and when the hostility of other kinship groups cannot be over- 
come, and the nephew cannot get a wife, he intervenes on his 
nephew's behalf and offers his own daughters. The deliberate 
arrangement of marriage so that the relationship may continue 
is merely another manifestation of the same close bond between 
brother and sister ; her children belong to the family and clan 
of a stranger, and his family and hers will drift apart in the 
course of time unless it is reunited. The marriage of their children 
will be such a reunion. These motives exemplify the strength of 
Hehe kinship and the value set upon it. Kinship is not the only 
social bond, but it is the one they value most, and upon which 
they most depend in the ordinary course of life and its emergencies. 
Other bonds may be set aside or disregarded, but to the Hehe 
certain fundamental kinship obligations are unalterable and 
only close with death. 


By Louis C. G. CLARKE 

The discovery by Mr. Woolley at Ur of a gold chatelaine 
consisting of tweezers, apparently for depilation, an ear-pick, 
and a pointed instrument, probably a toothpick, with a case 
in which they were kept (Fig. i), puts back the known date 
of the invention of this combination of implements by at least 
2,000 years. Hitherto none were known of a date earlier than the 
Hallstatt period. 

FIG. 1. -Ur. 

In Antiquity, vol. v, 1931, fig. 15, 337, a similar chatelaine 
in copper from Susa is published in R. de Mecquenem's paper on 
" Excavations at Susa in 1930 ". This set also has a case. These 
two specimens of chatelaines on rings are the only two I know 
of any date which have cases ; individual items are found in 
a case, or etui, but not when they are held together by a ring. 
The type must have originated in Mesopotamia, as it is unknown 
in Egypt, where ear-picks do not appear until Roman times, 
although tweezers are found amongst the earliest metal objects, 
occurring in early tombs of Abydos, El Amrah, etc. (see J. 
de Morgan, R&herches sur les origines de VEgypte, Paris, 1896, 
p. 200 and fig. 534). It is highly improbable that the combination 


should have been invented more than once and we can safely 
presume that all such chatelaines are derived from the 
Mesopotamian prototype. 

I cannot find any specimens of these groups in Europe until 
the Early Iron Age, although tweezers alone, usually of bronze 
but occasionally of gold, are known from many districts. There 
are tweezers from Mycenae, and Mr. Wace tells me that he has 
found them at Kalkani with a burial dating between the fifteenth 
and twelth centuries B.C. Dechelette, in his monumental work 
Manuel d' archdologie prehistorique celtique et gallo-romaine, vol. ii, 
pt. i, " The Bronze Age/' pp. 340-1 and fig. 136, says that they are 
found among the grave-furniture of both sexes in tumuli in 
Bavaria and Bohemia, that they are found in the Lake Dwellings 
of Switzerland, and that as early as Bronze Age II they spread 
from Southern Europe to Scandinavia. 

According to Dechelette it was during the Hallstatt II period 
that " une petite trousse composee ordinairement d'une pince, 
d'un cure-oreilles et d'un grattoir passes dans un anneau " 
appeared in Central Europe (Dechelette, loc. cit., vol. ii, pt. 2, 
880 and fig. 370). He figures specimens of simple form from 
Bavaria, Bohemia, and Hallstatt itself, and more ornate sets 
from the Jura and from Northern Italy. In the latter district 
they were apparently not uncommon ; several are figured by 
Randall Maclver, The Iron Age in Italy. One bronze set hung 
from a bronze fibula of late leech type studded with coral, from 
Palestro, and another of gold and silver, from Rebbio, he assigns 
to the late Comacine period, about sixth-fourth centuries B.C. He 
figures also a single ear-pick with elaborately modelled head and 
a forked object with head in the form of a female figure, from a 
cemetery of the eighth-sixth centuries at Novilara. The little forked 
object, probably a toothpick, which Dechelette calls a " grattoir ", 
is, I think, the prototype of the implement which I call a sickle- 
shaped object and which I believe to have made its first 
appearance in Roman times. 

In his vol. ii, pt. 3, 1271-4, Dechelette says that the use 
of the " pincette a epiler et des instruments de toilette en bronze 
ou en fer, separes ou reunis en trousse, subsiste a 1'epoque de la 
T&ne (figs. 547-8) ; toutefois, les trousses que nous connaissons 
ne se composent ordinairement que de deux ustensiles, la pincette 
et le grattoir. La curette auriculaire est rare ". He figures, 
however, a fine set with all three implements, from Aussonce, 
Ardennes (fig. 548, no. i). 

In Roman times they were very common, and some elaborately 

ornamented ones are found in Britain, such as the enamelled 

specimens in the Canterbury Museum. 1 I have fragmentary ones 

from London in my own collection. It was during Roman times 

1 I am indebted to Mile. Henry for drawing my attention to these. 


apparently that various other combinations arose, such as a 
single implement with tweezers at one end and an ear-pick at 
the other ; and now appeared for the first time a new implement 
with a sickle-shaped blade which was perhaps also a toothpick. 
I have a fine bronze one found in London with this curved blade 
at one end and an ear-pick at the other (Fig. 2). This sickle-shaped 
addition seems to have spread early to the East, as it appears in 
a very fine combination implement in bronze, believed to be of 
Tang date (Fig. 3) . It is still to be found in the East ; I have a 
fine long silver chatelaine set with turquoise and coral, from the 
Lepchas on the Tibetan borders, in which this implement appears 

FIG. 2. Roman London. 

FIG. 3. China : Tang dynasty. 

together with the ordinary pointed toothpick, tweezers, an ear- 
pick, and a small brush. This type, I believe, is found in Kazzan 
graves of ninth century A.D. 

The use of the chatelaine in Asia is very common. A specimen 
which Mr. Oscar Raphael bought from a Huwaitat Arab of 
Hejaz Kingdom (Fig. 4), and gave me, is very similar to the 
one found at Ur. In India the ear-picks and tweezers are very 
common, and they were in common use in China and Korea 
from at least as early as Tang times. A common form at that 
period was the combined ear-pick at one end and tweezers at 
the other such as we have already seen were in use in Roman 


times. Sometimes the ear-pick folded into the tweezers ; this 
type appears also in the Eastern Roman Empire. If nowadays the 
typical variety hanging on a ring has been superseded to a large 
extent in China by a form of chatelaine with various implements 
hanging from chains, the original type lingers in Korea ; Professor 
Seligman brought me back from Seoul a chatelaine degenerate 
from the type, having two ear-picks and two small hanging 
ornaments at the sides, doubtless the remains of toothpick and 
tweezers. Ear-picks frequently occur on the top of hairpins 
in China and Japan, and I have elaborate ones from each country. 
In Africa, except in Roman times, the toilet implements are 
rare except in Abyssinia, where a silver or brass ear-pick, 
occasionally with tweezers, is frequently seen hanging on the 

FIG. 4. Arab. 

chests of the men. Sometimes iron tweezers and a pointed 
implement are worn by the poorer class of people and are used 
to extract thorns from the feet. There is in the Museum fur 
Volkerkunde at Hamburg a set of implements including the sickle- 
shaped toothpick and an earpick from the Pangwe tribe in the 
Cameroons. This is probably a late introduction from European or 
Arab culture. 1 

In America, tweezers are found in Mexico and Peru. In 
the latter country they are generally shaped like a small bivalve, 
and are frequently ornamented with an animal on top. From 
Peru alone I have seen ear-picks, and these are the most elaborate 
and beautiful that I know. They are made of gold, silver, or 
copper. The tops are fashioned with animals, birds, or human 

1 I am indebted to Baron B. von Richthofen for information about this set. 


beings, of exquisite workmanship. Fig. 5 shows two specimens 
from Cuzco and Nasca. They appear to be chiefly of Inca date. 
Bingham found them at Machu Picchu an entirely Inca site ; he 
had apparently never seen any before, as in his article " The 
Story of Machu Picchu ", in The National Geographic Magazine, 
February, 1915, he illustrates two and says, " They were probably 
intended for use in supplying the small quantity of lime needed 
in connection with chewing coca leaves." An interesting point 
about these Peruvian ear-picks is that they always have a minute 
perforation at the top for suspension, as have the tweezers, so 
they were probably worn round the neck as the Abyssinians wear 
them to this day ; but until scientific excavation has been done 
in cemeteries of the Inca period we cannot be sure of this. In 
any case, although the Peruvian copper tweezers might have 

FIG. 5. a, Cuzco ; b, Nasca. 

been derived locally from bivalves, it is difficult to believe that the 
ear-picks could be other than an introduction from the Old World. 
The use of the chatelaine with its usual trinity of objects 
was continued into post- Roman times. They are found in 
Merovingian (Dechelette, vol. ii, pt. $, fig. 549) and Anglo-Saxon 
graves. The Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Cambridge 
contains several Anglo-Saxon sets, but these usually include only 
two of the three implements. Three graves from the cemeteries 
at Barrington, Cambs., contained sets of a bronze ear-pick and 
two toothpicks hung on an adjustable ring ; a group from 
Burwell, Cambs., consists of two toothpicks and an ear-pick 
with perforated bowl, all of silver ; at Girton, Cambs., three 
sets each consisting of an ear-pick and a pair of tweezers were 
found in urns, and a similar set came from an urn in the cemetery 

4 6 


in St. John's College cricket field, Cambridge ; all these probably 
belong to the sixth century A.D. 

After the Dark Ages the combination is rare, but I have 
silver ear-picks of late sixteenth- or early seventeenth-century 
date, two of which have oblong slits in the stem and were perhaps 
used as bodkins as well as ear-picks. I have a very fine French 
gold set attached to a pink enamelled heart, with the sickle-shaped 
and pointed toothpicks and an ear-pick without tweezers (Fig.6), 
of seventeenth-century date ; perhaps the use of the latter had 
died out in polite society owing to the custom of depilation being 
no longer practised. The use of small ear-picks and tweezers 
combined, as found in the Roman Empire, in China, and in 
Korea, was common in the eighteenth century, and most etuis of the 
period contain them. I have even a twentieth-century one bought 
in London just before the War. 

FIG. 6. French: Seventeenth Century. FIG. 7. Dutch: Eighteenth century. 

I have also a small gold case of about the year 1800 containing 
a small gold ear-pick with the other end pointed evidently for 
use as a toothpick. A gold toothpick in a very similar case, 
which belonged to Charles I when he was Prince of Wales, 
was sold in London for a large sum some time before the War. 

It was not only in the East that ear-picks appeared on the 
tops of pins for the hair, as I have a charming Dutch silver one 
probably used for keeping a cap on the head. 

It was apparently in Holland in the eighteenth century that 
a remarkable development occurred in the use of these sets. 
Fig. 7 shows a silver folding set with an ear-pick and a toothpick 
closing up like the blades of a pocket-knife, with a seal with a coat 
of arms hinged on below. Fig. 8 has still an ear-pick, a pointed 
toothpick, and a very debased form of the sickle-shaped toothpick, 
but has as well a stop for pushing down the tobacco in the pipe 
and a hook-shaped implement for cleaning out the pipe ; the 


seal with coat of arms remains. In a perfectly modern implement 
(Fig. 9) may be seen the remains of the chatelaine ; the ear-pick's 
bowl has been enlarged into a sharp-sided spoon for scraping out the 
pipe the pointed toothpick blunted at the tip for pushing down into 
the stem of the pipe, and the stop as in the Dutch silver specimen. 

FIG. 8. Dutch : Eighteenth century. 

The combination of tweezers and pipe-cleaners is found 
amongst the Lamuts in Kamchatka. Dr. Bergman says : " Every 
pipe has a cleaner, which usually hangs on to the tobacco-pouch by 
a strap. This is often inlaid with copper and, like the pipe, made 
by the Lamuts themselves. Side by side with this pipe-cleaner 
is often attached to the men's tobacco-pouch a little pincer-like 

FIG. 9. Austria : Twentieth century. 

apparatus, which also is inlaid. This is used with which to pull out 
hairs " (Through Kamchatka by Dog-Sled and Skis, Bergman, 1927). 
Since writing the above I have received, through the kindness 
of Dr. T. J. Arne, of Stockholm, a beautiful modern silver chatelaine, 
elaborately chased and set with turquoises, fromYazd, in Persia; it 
includes tweezers, earpick, toothpick, and two implements of 
uncertain use. 


The Azande attribute sickness and misfortune, whatever may 
be its nature, to witchcraft and sorcery. This does not mean 
that they entirely disregard secondary causes but, in so far as 
they recognize these, they generally think of them as associated 
with witchcraft and magic. Nor does their reference of sickness 
to supernatural causes lead them to neglect treatment of 
symptoms. On the contrary they possess an enormous 
pharmacopoeia, and in ordinary circumstances they trust to 
drugs to cure their ailments and only take steps to remove the 
primary and supernatural causes when the disease is of a serious 
nature or takes an alarming turn. Nevertheless, we must 
remember in describing the Zande classification of diseases and 
their treatment that witchcraft may always be a participant in 
their origin, and that if the Azande do not always and immediately 
consult their oracles to find out the witch that is responsible, it 
is because they consider the sickness to be of a minor character 
and not worth the trouble and expense of oracle-consultations. 
I have elsewhere l described what they do to frustrate the action 
of witchcraft, and in serious illness the Azande undoubtedly 
regard this as the main objective. The character of the disease 
is closely bound up with notions of etiology and treatment. 
Whether they have any correct conception of the physiology 
of man and the effect of their drugs on the organism or whether 
they think that they somehow react on the supernatural agencies 
which cause sickness, is a question which we may leave open 
at present, but I have no hesitation in saying at the outset that 
their notions of physiology are very hazy, that their drugs almost 
entirely lack therapeutic value, and that their ideas about 
disease, its cause and cure, are usually without any foundation. 
It would be very surprising if this were otherwise. 

Azande know diseases by their major symptoms. Hence 
when symptoms develop they are able to diagnose them as a 
certain disease and to tell you its name. An analysis of Father 
De Graer's list of Zande diseases with their etymological 
derivations shows us that they may be roughly classified under the 
following headings 2 : 

(i) Diseases named simply after the part affected. 

1 " Witchcraft (mangu) among the Azande," Sudan Notes and Records, 1929. 
8 R.P.A. M. De Graer, " L'art de guchir chez les Azande," Congo, 1929, 
pp. 220-254 and 361-408. All numbers in parentheses refer to his account. 

49 B 


(2) Diseases named after the sensations they produce or their 
effects on the organism. 

(3) Diseases named after something in nature to which they 
bear a resemblance. 

(4) Diseases named after their causes. 

(5) Diseases named after their cures. 

On the whole the purely homeopathic character of much 
of Zande treatment is evident at a glance. It is manifest that 
abstention from a certain fish on the part of pregnant mothers 
will not prevent convulsions in their infants ; that ashes of the 
burnt skull of a red bush monkey will not cure epilepsy ; and 
that ulcers will not heal by the sick man drinking powdered tooth 
of crocodile in water. In the same way it is no remedy for bronchitis 
" to reduce to cinders a dog's tongue or the roots of bakazagbwate 
and to eat them without touching them with the hand. They 
are placed on a woman's stool called ' bata ' and thus licked by 
the sick person " (244). If massage is of value in treating a small 
child suffering from denge, swelling of the sides of the thorax, 
it is surely a useless injunction which says that the masseur must 
be a homicide or a mother of twins (243). The cure for 
elephantiasis of the scrotum is an application to the scrotum 
of the pulp of the fruit of the sausage tree, or eating a plant 
called sungbwa cooked with termites called amatindi. One may 
presume that the fruit of the sausage tree and the mound home 
of the amatindi termites bear a resemblance in Zande eyes to 
elephantiasis of the scrotum. I was told that the best treatment 
for epilepsy was to pour some liquid drug under the patient's 
finger-nails. For a malady of the eyelids the Azande know no 
other remedy than to bend over the mound of the tomb and 
lightly rub the sick eyelid on the earth (253) . Indeed some of the 
diseases as well as their cures seem fictitious. Thus hima 
ngorongba is a sickness which can have no real existence. The 
ngorongba or the paka, as it is also called, is a small pimple hidden 
" aux endroits pilif feres du corps of a man or of a woman 
and visible only to specialists. The presence of this pimple in 
either parent causes the death of their child when it has reached 
one or two years of age. Thus all their children will die in 
succession if the pimple has not been removed. The parents are 
conducted by members of the family on to a stony outcrop on 
which they lie down completely naked, and while the leech 
looks for the pimples in their hairs, members of the family make 
a great clamour and hurl the most abusive expressions at the 
heads of the father and mother. The procedure is supposed to 
facilitate the work of the leech by making the pimples more 
visible. Once located they are removed from the skin by a 
knife (249-250). 


In view of Father De Graer's painstaking study of Zande 
nomenclature of disease and of their therapeutic practices he 
lists almost a hundred different maladies and between three 
hundred and four hundred drugs it is the more surprising to 
my mind that he can put any faith in the therapeutic value of 
Zande drugs (220, 226, 227). His faith would appear to rest 
on the assumption that Azande would hardly have continued to 
use drugs for centuries if they possessed no curative values, 
a faith which is unhappily contradicted by the history of European 
medicine and by the history of magic everywhere and at all 
times. The enormous number of drugs which the Azande employ 
and the complete repertoire of herbal products they bring to 
bear on a single disease at once demonstrate their lack of 
therapeutic value, when we reflect what scientific pharmacology 
really implies. One cannot say with absolute certainty that 
Zande drugs for syphilis, consumption, dysentery, gonorrhoea, 
etc., are totally ineffective as curative agents, but in the light of 
the history of our own treatment of these diseases it is as near 
certainty as non-experimental argument can be. Lack of space 
forbids an account of Zande treatment for them, but the reader 
may consult Father De Graer's paper on the subject. 

Nevertheless, the very fact of naming diseases and 
differentiating them from one another by their symptoms shows 
a great deal of empirical knowledge. They are often very skilled 
in the detection of early symptoms and our own doctors have 
told me that they seldom err in diagnosing early leprosy. They 
are naturally much less sure in diagnosing disease affecting 
internal organs such as the intestines, the liver, and the spleen. 
Also they know beforehand the normal course of a disease as soon 
as its symptoms are pronounced. They often know what the 
later symptoms will be and whether the patient is likely to 
live or die and how long he is likely to survive. Besides their 
ability to give a prognosis they can also tell you the etiology 
of disease, and though their notions of causes are generally far 
from objective reality, the fact that they recognize different 
causes for different illnesses is a tribute to their powers of 
observation and logical reasoning. The cause to which 
they attribute maladies often cannot help being the true one as 
in cuts, scalds, burns, bites, and they are aware of such facts 
as that the occurrence of syphilitic symptoms is necessarily 
preceded by sexual intercourse with an infected person. More- 
over, almost every disease is not only diagnosed and its probable 
course foretold and its relation to a cause defined, but also each 
disease has its own individual treatment, which in some cases has 
evidently been built up on experience and in others, though probably 
quite ineffectual, shows a logico-experimental element. A few 
examples of empirical therapeutics will illustrate this statement. 


Some Zande treatments undoubtedly have therapeutic value. 
On one occasion a kettle of boiling water was accidentally knocked 
over a sleeping boy in my kitchen and he was terribly scalded 
down the whole length of one side of his body. He was treated 
as for burns and the scalded parts were protected from the air 
by honey, on which was sprinkled the flowers of the dnvute plant, 
which are fluffy like dandelion flowers. This is done in order to 
give consistency to the honey, and hairs of a wild cat may be used 
for the same purpose. If no honey is available when a person is 
burnt they coat the affected part with flour. They also anoint 
the sores with an ointment made of burnt memegbara mixed 
with oil. 

Their treatment for headache is possibly efficacious. They 
bind the temples tightly with cord, though it is realized that this 
is less a cure than an alleviation of pain through a lessening of the 
pressure of blood. They also cause counter-irritation by drawing 
blood by suction through a gazelle's horn. This is placed on the 
temples just in front of the top of the ear. The narrow end of 
the horn is coated with a lump of wax and, when the operator has 
created a vacuum by sucking through the horn, he closes the 
aperture by biting on the wax with his teeth, drawing it over the 
mouth of the horn. The horn fills with blood from the incisions 
which have been made on the temple, and when it is full they 
pierce the wax with a little stick and hold a leaf beneath to catch 
the blood. This wet cupping treatment is said to cure headache 
if it is not occasioned by witchcraft, for if this is the case it will 
continue in spite of cupping. Another cure is to make slight 
incisions on the sides of the temples and to rub into them red 
pepper pods. They also pull out a few hairs from the head of 
the sick man and burn them and hold them to his nostrils. In 
a similar manner they place some smouldering barkcloth in a 
little cup made of leaves and hold it under the sick person's 
nose. For the same purpose they use crushed leaves of the 
vtitoli plant, which emits a sharp scent. They are as small as 
laurel leaves but in shape are not unlike oak leaves. Father 
De Graer mentions a number of other plants which are useful 
for smelling or for making lotion to pour up the nostrils or for 
rubbing into incisions made on the forehead (253-4). 

They make use of an enema in dysentery and severe diarrhoea. 
This consists of a gourd with a long thin mouth filled with water 
which has been boiled with a number of herbs (385). Possibly 
also their treatment of neuralgia is effective : they bind a slightly 
warmed compress above the affected member and then massage 
it from the compress to the extremity of the member. The 
compress is to prevent the akilima, the small grubs which are 
supposed to cause the disease, from going towards the body and 
compel them to go towards the extremity (371-2). 


For a swelling of the forearm, hand and running towards the 
wrist, called ndiwa or baguru, they cause counter-irritation by 
putting the arm into a nest of agogodogo ants, which slightly pinch 
the skin (383). 

Anyone who has lived in Zandeland will moreover have noticed 
how careful Azande are to wash sores and wounds with hot 
water, and they do not desist from this task however agonizing 
the cries of a child patient. They are equally careful to protect 
wounds from exposure to the air by covering them with leaves 
or wood-dust or bast or animals' fur. Doubtless the nicotine they 
place on sores acts as an antiseptic, and it is possible that some 
of the many decoctions, lotions, liniments, unguents, ashes of 
burnt herbs, powders, infusions, clay plaster, etc., may have 
therapeutic value, but I can express no opinion on this matter. 
The same may be said of massage and hot compresses for various 

Azande know emetics which take quick effect, but I do not 
think that they are acquainted with any genuine aperients. 
In the old days when people sometimes drank a poison test of 
strychnine their relatives tried to restore them by administering 
a drug made from scraped badangi creeper mixed with scraped 
inner bark of the kpoiyo tree. The patient swallowed these 
slimy substances and was invariably and violently sick. The 
only cure for constipation I have recorded is to take some leaves 
of a wild plant called tande, which Azande use as a vegetable, and 
rub them together between the hands into a ball. This ball is 
pushed a little way up the anus by a finger so that it forms a tight 
wad. This treatment is said to loosen the bowels shortly after- 
wards. Possibly also their cure for diarrhoea has some value. 
They take an unripe banana of the bira species and cut it into slices 
and dip them into salt and eat them. Also they take a hen's 
egg and, breaking it, empty its contents on to an old potsherd 
and heat them over a fire after adding some palm-oil. Then they 
drink this mixture. Father De Graer says that they introduce 
into the anus a young bruised leaf of tobacco as a cure 
for diarrhoea, especially for infantile diarrhoea (389). 

My own experience has been that Zande remedies are of an 
almost completely magical order : thus a typical Zande cure is 
that for pneumonia (bdtuma) also called zelekondo and kaza 
nganzira, though this last seems to be a name lately introduced. 
The prescription runs as follows : Take roots of mbegi and mix 
with malt in boiling water and give to the patient to drink. 
Take a root of bavumgbwate and scrape it and place scrapings with 
cold water in a leaf-wrapping and squeeze some of the mixture 
up the sick man's nostrils out of the sight of people. Bind 
cord tightly round the chest. Such prescriptions are usually 
accompanied by spells. I have seen a good number of drugs being 


prepared and have accounts of a far greater number. I will not 
reproduce these here but will only remark that I have never been 
able to observe any difference between their preparations and the 
preparation of materia medica in magical rites of all kinds. A 
typical example of Zande treatment is that for early morning 
biliousness, which produces acute shivering fits and nausea. 
As I sometimes suffered from this malady (called in Zande 
kelegbundu) myself I had an incentive to inquire into the remedy, 
though I have never had the curiosity to try its therapeutic 
properties. The patient's sister's son places him at the side of 
the threshold of his hut and places an open-woven basket over 
his head. The sister's son then lights a handful of straw and runs 
several times round the patient, finally extinguishing the straw in 
front of him. He then takes cold water and sprinkles it over his 
maternal uncle, which causes him to shiver violently. Then he 
removes the basket, and taking the patient by the hand raises him 
and shakes his arms by raising them and bringing them down 
forcibly. Later they make an infusion from a certain creeper 
and wash the patient with it in the middle of a path. 

It must not be supposed, moreover, that because part of 
a treatment is of real therapeutic value it is necessarily 
the part which Azande stress as really vital to the cure. I had 
a good example of the manner in which magical and empirical 
treatment are employed at the same time when a boy who formed 
a member of my household was bitten by a snake which was said 
to be very poisonous. One of our neighbours, who was known to 
have a vast knowledge of drugs, was immediately sent for and said 
that he knew exactly what was required. He had brought with 
him a knife and some drugs (a piece of bark and some kind of 
grass) . He first of all ate some of the bark and gave the remainder 
to the boy to eat. Both chewed it and after swallowing the juice 
spat out the wood. They did the same with the grass. The leech 
told me afterwards that he partook of the medicine himself so 
that were the boy to have died he could not well have been 
accused of having administered bad medicine to him. He also 
told me that he had addressed the bark, saying that if the boy 
were to recover let him belch and that if he were to die let him 
refrain from belching, so that the drug had an oracular action. 
Having administered these drugs he then took out his knife and 
made an incision on the boy's foot where he had been bitten 
by raising the skin between his fingers and drawing the blade 
of his knife across it with several light strokes. As soon as blood 
began to ooze out of the cuts he took the boy's foot in his hands 
and raising it to his mouth sucked at the incisions forcibly and 
for some time. He then said that the boy was to be kept perfectly 
quiet and admonished him not to move about. After a while he 
began to belch on account of the drugs he had eaten, and on 


seeing this happy augury the leech had no longer any doubt 
that he would speedily recover, although he warned him that the 
pain would spread up the leg and that he would feel it keenly 
in the region of the heart. 

In what then lies the difference between the magical and the 
empirical elements in Zande therapeutics ? In attempting to 
answer this question we must first frame it in accordance with 
Zande terminology, and ask what is the difference between the 
magical and empirical elements in ngwa when it is used thera- 
peutically. This raises a linguistic question into which I do not 
wish to enter here, but we may understand that such actions as 
sucking a snake-bite and placing honey on a scald are not properly 
speaking ngwa, and that this term refers in normal usage to 
drugs. At any rate I shall use it in this sense here and defer 
a full discussion of the matter to a final account of Zande magic. 
I mention the point in this place because it is evident that the 
Zande sees a behaviouristic difference between preparing and 
administering drugs and the coating of a scald with honey. 
At the same time I have no reason to suppose that the man 
who sucked the snake-bite and gave the bitten boy drugs to eat 
distinguished between the efficacy of the one and the efficacy 
of the other treatment. A man who places a basket over his 
maternal uncle's head and pours cold water on him to cure 
early morning nausea does not distinguish the therapeutic effect 
of his actions from those of a man who smears honey on to 
a scald. If witchcraft does not interfere both treatments will be 

We can only distinguish between the magical and the empirical 
elements by their objective results, the one in no way effecting 
a cure and the other having a curative or alleviating action 
on the patient. It is not necessary for Azande to understand the 
physiological and chemical processes by which a cure is effected 
for us to class it as empirical rather than magical, but it is necessary 
that the treatment should, in fact, have therapeutic value. 
The greatest care is, therefore, necessary in classifying treatment 
as magical or empirical, because usually it is an extremely 
complex mixture of both. Thus the action of a drug may be in 
accordance with its purpose while the treatment may not, 
e.g. a drug given to cure syphilis by vomiting may cause vomiting 
and to this extent is empirical, but vomiting may in no way cure 
syphilis and to this extent it is magical. Or a treatment may be 
empirical in some respects but magical in others, e.g. massage 
may be of use in treating swelling of the thorax in children, 
or for fracture, but it is clearly a magical injunction which 
insists on it being carried out by a homicide or mother of twins 
in the first instance, and by a member of the Amazungu clan in 
the second instance. 


It does not seem to me to be possible to make any differentia- 
tion between the two by distinguishing between affective states. 
The Zande leech certainly acts with confidence, but he is equally 
confident whether his treatment be of therapeutic value or not. 
As I have already pointed out, Azande prepare their drugs to 
heal the sick and administer these in just the same way as when 
they are preparing materia medica to give them powers of song 
or to practise as a witch-doctor or to protect their homes and 
families from witchcraft. They boil and stir the ingredients in 
precisely the same manner and utter similar spells over them. 
Thus in consumption (dinge) they take a root of ngorodimo 
and a root of ngaranda and scrape them into a gourdful of water 
and let them soak there, adding salt and uttering a spell over 
them. Then they decant the mixture and pour it into the 
patient's mouth. The deep intramuscular abscess called abagita 
is said to start with blood alone and without pus. At this stage 
they apply a cupping-horn near the mouth of the abscess. When 
pus has formed the place is lanced, and the patient swallows a 
number of drugs and rubs others on to the abscess. One of these 
drugs is a little fish of the whiskered variety, probably a cat- 
fish, which is applied alive to the abscess and is addressed, " Little 
fish are you I place you on the abscess, let the abscess disappear. " 
In treating syphilis, which they know is caught from contact 
with an infected woman, they take a root of bafuafu or bamohi 
and scrape and cook it with sweet potatoes. They mash the 
sweet potatoes with the scrapings and the patient drinks an 
infusion from this mixture after it has had a long spell uttered 
over it. The medicine will then cause violent sickness and clear 
the liver, which is the place where syphilis and, indeed, most other 
diseases are considered to be localized. In his account of leprosy 
Father De Graer shows the action of spells in the preparation 
of drugs (377). 

It is true that when performing so simple an action as washing 
a sore with warm water they do not utter a spell, but the same 
is often true of preparation of drugs and other actions of leech- 
craft which have no therapeutic value. The spell is not an 
essential element in the performance of magic among the Azande, 
and we cannot argue from its presence or absence how the 
performer participates emotionally in a rite. That there is often 
an emotional condition to be observed in the performer (or more 
often his employer) is true, but I cannot tell whether this is 
a constant element in all performances or not. In any case the 
fact that they are more disturbed in treating pneumonia than in 
treating cough, in treating mortal abscesses than in treating 
simple lesions, does not determine the efficacy of their treat- 
ment. The danger to life is the cause of anxiety and is extraneous 
to the specialist ritual of a leech. 


Here I can only touch on the theoretical problems which 
arise from a study of Zande therapeutics, for they go too deep 
for a short exposition. They concern the whole relationship 
of empirical to mystical thought and behaviour in human society 
and their complicated interaction, which is, perhaps, more clearly 
shown in the history of medicine than elsewhere. I can only 
attempt a condensed analysis of one aspect, the ideological one. 

In Zande notions about disease we find that ideas of witch- 
craft and sorcery may be present, and that, in their notions 
about drugs, there may be present the idea of mystical 
force in the drugs, the mbisimo ngwa " the spirit of the drug ". 
But these notions are not always of the same intensity. In some 
cases the disease and the mystical cause form an ideological 
unity ; in others this unity is broken up and we find a belief 
in dual causation by two distinct forces, the disease itself and 
the witchcraft which conditions its occurrence and continuance 
in the organism. Lastly we find in many cases the belief in witch- 
craft as a causative agent in disease sinking into the background, 
and what we call natural causation dominant. This separation 
tends to take place when the disease is of a slight nature or its 
cause is evident to the senses (slight in its organic effects rather 
than in relation between organic effects and therapeutic treat- 
ment, since this last is so undeveloped). Nevertheless, the treat- 
ment may be just as magical, in our sense of the word, in a slight 
as in a serious illness. But here again Zande belief is not con- 
sistent and identical. In internal diseases they trust to the 
mystical properties of drugs to cure a patient. But even here 
there can be little doubt that when the action of the drug is 
of a precise and local nature, as in an emetic for instance, the 
Zande regards its action very much in the same way as a layman 
in our own society regards similar drugs, not mystically but 
also not pharmacologically. Furthermore, we get treatment 
in which the mystical action of drugs has fallen apart from the 
treatment in which drugs are not used in which there is a local 
as well as a general treatment e.g. the sucking of a snake-bite 
and internal administration of a drug, or in which there is local 
treatment alone, as in smearing honey on burns. There is a vast 
variety of behaviour and opinion which defies rigid classification 
because they shade into one another in a complicated pattern 
of interconnections. I can only show the general lines along 
which I believe that the subject can be treated by arranging 
single examples typologically. I conclude by doing this for 
Zande notions of causation in sickness. 

I was some twenty months in Zandeland and was constantly 
associated with every kind of sickness. At one time I spent 
about two hours every morning dressing sores, but eventually 
I gave up this practice when I found that it took too much of 


my time. When, therefore, I generalize about Zande notions of 
causation I do so on a fairly wide experience. I have invariably 
found that when a Zande is struck down by general and acute 
sickness, with sudden and severe symptoms and rapid course, as 
in certain types of fever, pneumonia, cerebro-spinal meningitis, 
influenza, etc. (as far as my diagnosis goes), that his relatives 
and neighbours straight away connect his collapse with the 
primary cause of witchcraft or bad magic, almost always in 
cases of sudden collapse with sorcery. They do not say that the 
sick man is suffering from such-and-such an illness and that this 
illness is due to sorcery. The illness itself is diagnosed as bad 
magic they say straight away when they see the symptoms 
"It is kitikiti ngwa ", " It is sorcery/' They will immediately 
apply to a man who knows the ziga, the antidote, to the bad 
magic and ask him to administer it to the sick person. In the 
same manner it sometimes happens that a man thinks he has 
seen evil-bringing adandala cats in the bush, and if he falls suddenly 
sick within the next two or three weeks he will know that his 
sickness is due to their influence and ultimately to the woman 
who placed them in his path. The sickness, in fact, proves that 
he really did see adandala and that he did not imagine that he 
had seen them or mistaken some other cats for them. His 
relatives will therefore send for a specialist who knows the 
antidote to adandala if they do not know it themselves. Here 
again they may not name the sickness at all, but simply say 
"It is adandala ". Certain social situations will in the same 
manner produce a direct and sole reference to the primary 
mystical cause. Thus, if a man dies when he is wearing the 
string worn by those who have taken on themselves the responsi- 
bility of vengeance-magic, it is at once said that he has broken 
a taboo and that the magic has turned on him and killed him. 
If such a man is ill his relatives will pay the specialist who has 
made vengeance-magic on his behalf to destroy its potency 
by placing it in the cool waters of a marsh. Or again, if an 
adulterer or thief falls ill they know the reason of his illness 
at once, and seek out the offended husband or owner of property 
and try to persuade him to withdraw his magic. This is the only 
cure. In all these cases we have a simple pattern of thought 
and single line of behaviour : 

Mystical Cause Acute Illness Treatment (directed 

(sorcery against mystical 

taboo, etc.) cause and disease 

together) . 

But less serious sickness, chronic sickness which comes on 
slowly and is protracted and not accompanied by violent 
symptoms, or local sickness, Azande generally attribute to the 
action of witchcraft rather than to sorcery, and in this case there 


is no question of immediately applying an antidote because 
there are no drugs against witchcraft. 1 Moreover, here they dis- 
tinguish much more clearly between the disease itself which 
is responsible for the ill-health and the witchcraft without which 
the disease would not have seized this particular man. Here 
the pattern of thought is more complicated since it admits dual 
causation, the disease itself and the witchcraft acting with it 
not so much as the cause of it but as a necessary condition of 
its occurrence and continued existence in the body of its victim. 
This duality runs right through Zande thought in its relation 
to witchcraft. A man is wounded by an animal and the 
Zande attributes his misfortune to the animal and to witchcraft 
together. Taking a hunting metaphor he says that the animal 
was "first spear " and witchcraft "second spear' 1 , since both 
played a part in his death. We must be careful not to present 
Zande thought too logically by saying that the animal was the 
agent of witchcraft, for I do not think that Azande work out 
a chain of causation in this manner but that they look on both 
causes as operating at the same time. Thus in disease also they 
conceive of the disease and witchcraft as separate interacting 
causes. A man suffers from a deep intramuscular abscess, and 
although they think of the abscess as a cause and existing in its 
own right, they believe that it would not have attacked this 
particular man or at least would not have developed or continued 
to molest him if it were not for the co-operation of witchcraft 
(or possibly of good magic if the man had committed some crime) . 
In the same manner Azande do not imagine that any other thing 
than boiling water has caused a scald, if we mean that any other 
thing has been a sensible occasion of the scald, but he knows 
nevertheless, that the accident would not have occurred but for 
the presence of witchcraft. This complexity of thought, this 
recognition of dual causation, is shown also in Zande treatment 
which is carried out along two lines, by the administration of 
drugs which deal with the disease and by the mechanism of 
oracles which divulge the name of the witch who is responsible 
so that it is then possible to induce him to remove his influence : 

Mystical Cause Drugs and other 

(witchcraft) -~^__ ^^.- therapeutic treatment. 

^^__JI^ I llness ^"""^ 
Disease- ~~~" ^^^ Oracles, etc. 

In such cases the disease has to be diagnosed and named 
and the specific remedy applied. This very naming and identifica- 
tion of the disease objectifies it and gives it a reality of its own 

1 For the difference between witchcraft and sorcery in Zande culture see my 
paper, " Sorcery and Public Opinion in Primitive Society/' Africa, 1931. 


independent of witchcraft, just as the animal which has wounded 
a man has an independent existence of its own and only comes 
into co-operation with witchcraft under certain conditions in 
situations of sickness or death, or just as boiling water is some- 
thing sui generis and witchcraft is something sui generis, but their 
combination is necessary to cause scalding. Even in internal 
sickness the Zande often makes its independent and objective 
reality clearer by attributing it to grubs and worms or some other 
concrete cause, and in this case we may say that they distinguish 
between the cause of ill-health and its symptoms. In diseases 
which are attributed at the same time to the activity of the 
disease itself and to witchcraft it is always the presence or absence 
of witchcraft which is the determining factor in the patient's 
death or recovery. Hence the more serious the disease becomes 
the less they trouble about administering drugs and the more 
they consult oracles and make counter-magic. At death their 
thoughts are directed only towards witchcraft and revenge, 
to purely mystical causation, while in minor ailments or at the 
early symptoms of an illness from which a man may be expected 
to recover without difficulty they think less of witchcraft and 
more of the disease itself and of curing it by the use of drugs. 
This is seen in those small ailments in which they are able to 
give a fairly sure and optimistic prognosis, for they often do not 
refer them to any supernatural agency at all but simply name 
them and treat them. Thus when a man cuts his foot either they 
do nothing or wash it and bind it with leaves, and it is only when 
it begins to fester that they commence to trouble about witch- 
craft. In the same manner ulcers may be attributed to themselves 
and no one troubles to consult oracles or take any other steps 
to counteract supernatural agencies : 

Disease Illness Treatment against Illness. 

But even here when supernatural causation ceases to be 
explicit, i.e. referred in social behaviour to the action of witch- 
craft or magic or the spirits of the dead, if you were to question 
a Zande he would certainly insist that he would not have been 
sick unless somebody had used witchcraft against him. Ultimately 
witchcraft or some other mystical power is the cause and back- 
ground to all misfortune. But here it is a distant cause, a vague 
background. It is not so manifest in the foreground of Zande 
thought and behaviour. Their thought and behaviour are not 
directed towards it as a sole or even major objective. This 
objective is the disease itself. But let the illness continue or 
show alarming symptoms, then the concept of witchcraft comes 
into the foreground of their consciousness and obscures the 
independent action of the disease. Supernatural causes are never 
excluded entirely from Zande thought about sickness, but they 


are sometimes more, sometimes less, prominent. A theoretical 
treatment of Zande therapeutics could go very much farther 
than I have taken it but the lines along which it could be developed 
are, I think, clear from what has been said so far. We found 
that Zande thought about disease is essentially mystical, in 
Levy-Bruhl's sense of belief in supernatural causation, but that 
the degree of mysticism is not always the same and is not always 
absolute so that it allows the notion of disease as an independent 
causative factor to be present also. It is, therefore, possible 
for them to separate the two and deal with them separately. 
Treatment therefore takes two lines : one deals with the mystical 
cause and one deals with the disease. But even in the treatment 
of the disease itself we find an empirical element, particularly 
in treatment of local and external symptoms, side by side with 
a mystical element in the internal absorption of drugs endowed 
with magical potency by rite and spell. Were we to proceed 
further in our analysis we should find empirical behaviour and 
thought also in the very core of witchcraft, sorcery, oracles, 
and mater i a medica of all sorts. 


The investigation of the nature of dreams, their importance 
and their significance in the life of primitive peoples, is a subject 
in which interest has grown in recent years. This is due 
particularly to the stimulus given by Dr. Seligman, who has 
collected much information relating to a number of " typical 
dreams " in various parts of the world and provided valuable 
suggestions for their study. It is perhaps then appropriate that 
an essay in a volume dedicated to him should be concerned with 
one of his favourite topics. Though to my regret it was not 
convenient for me in my field- work in Tikopia to follow in entirety 
the methods of procedure indicated by Seligman, which would 
have added greatly to the interest of this account the method 
of analysis by free association was not used I have been able 
to bring together illustrative material which corroborates to 
a considerable degree some of the results he has obtained. This 
article through the exigencies of space consists mainly in a state- 
ment of the general character of dreams and dream interpretation 
in Tikopia ; the adduction of full texts and detailed discussion 
has had to be postponed till a later occasion. 

The folk of Tikopia, a small, isolated, crater peak standing 
well out in the ocean to the south-east of the Solomon Islands, 
are a branch of the great Polynesian stock. 1 On first acquaintance 
with these natives one would be inclined to think that dreams 
would not play any great part in their life. They impress the 
observer by their practicality, their concentration on the 
material side of things, their indifference to matters which do 
not serve some directly useful end for them. They are by no 
means devoid of artistic feeling, but they normally waste little 
time in enhancement of their possessions ; their bark-cloth is 
abundant, but coarse and plain ; their woodwork skilful and effec- 
tive, but rough. A thing passes muster, however uncouth, so long as 
it is efficient. The European who thinks to create an impression, 
in traditional style, by the display of some trick or piece of 
mechanical ingenuity as " white man's magic " finds himself 
put out of countenance. These natives are not taken in by super- 
natural explanations : the thing is clever, they admit, they 
cannot do the like, but it is made by men's hands ; how then 

1 A brief description of some aspects of their culture is given in articles in 
Oceania, i, 1930-1931 ; Journal Royal Anthropological Institute, Ix, 1930. 



does it work, and what is its use ? " Tough-minded " savages, 
in fact ! 

There is some excuse, then, for wondering if such flimsy stuff 
as dreams is of any interest to them, and whether they ever 
allow their conduct to be influenced by such immaterial considera- 
tions. Casual observation in this direction is not encouraging, 
but closer acquaintance reveals that beneath the crust of 
materialism and practicality lies an active belief in a world 
of spirits and immaterial forces, potent for good or evil, a firm 
conviction of their interference in the affairs of humanity, and 
a sensitiveness to any phenomena, however trivial and bizarre, 
which might portend action from the other side of the veil. 
The Tikopia dream, and they regard their dreams as significant 
of supernormal influences, though they do not attach equal 
weight to them in all circumstances. 

Our study of the matter may be begun by indicating the type 
of replies elicited by concrete questioning when the subject is 
first opened. The question is put, " Does a person when sleeping 
look on other persons, meet them, have speech with them, go 
fishing or to the woods, and on waking find that he still lies on 
his bed mat ? " 

It is admitted by the natives that such a thing happens : it 
is called ie miti. 

" Do miti occur often ? " 

" To some people, yes; to others, no ! " 

" These miti, are they true ? " 

" Some are true, others are false, others are dreams only" 
(te miti fuere) without significance, that is. As the inquiry 
proceeds further a mass of information is revealed which indicates 
that considerable attention is often paid to dreams, and the 
diagnosis of them is thought to throw light on the affairs of the 
normal waking life. Nevertheless, dreams in Tikopia do not 
obtrude themselves on the ethnographer. Unless he makes 
specific inquiry it is possible for him to be for a considerable time 
in close contact with the people without hearing a dream told 
to a group of listeners or advanced as a reason for following 
some line of conduct. There is no taboo against making known 
one's dreams ; they are told willingly and openly on request, 
in good narrative style, with the native attention to detail and 
command of dialogue, sometimes with a strong affective reaction. 
But no systematic scheme of telling them exists, no formal 
technique of interpretation has been elaborated. Dreams when 
related are told casually, on waking or at odd moments of leisure 
during the day. Many of them, though vividly remembered, are 
not reported in public at all. Some dreams, too, have no signifi- 
cance assigned to them. It may be said, indeed, that the weight 
attached to a dream varies as the emotional intensity of the 


personal situation at the time, that a dream receives attention 
and credence largely in so far as it can be related to some question 
immediately at issue within the social horizon of the dreamer. 
It is this correlation of dream interpretation with the situation 
of the moment that explains the inconsistency frequently to 
be found in assigning a meaning to such experiences. 

The Tikopia explanation of the cause of dreams varies 
according to the precise nature of the experience, but rests at 
bottom on the general theory of the mobile soul. Every person 
has a mauri or ora, an intangible entity normally invisible to the 
waking eye, which may for convenience be designated the spirit 
or life principle the native terms being generally used 
synonymously and this is capable of leaving the body during 
sleep and wandering abroad. " Tou mauri ku poi tatafau " 
" Thy spirit has gone strolling " was an explanation made by 
one informant. In this condition the mauri has experiences 
which are transmitted to its mortal owner and constitute the 
stuff of his dreams. The natives have no clear theory as to the 
relation between spirit and body at this time ; they are separate, 
yet the adventures of the spirit part become the responsible 
agent, the property of the whole, and a person in narrating his 
dream uses the pronoun " I ". Both spirit and body, in fact, 
are treated as the Ego. Other persons seen in dreams are prima 
facie the mauri of such persons, though here an important 
qualification has to be made, as will be seen below. 

Dreams of visits to distant places are readily explained by the 
mobility of the mauri, which can flash about at will, annihilating 
space, while the same power also allows it to journey to Rangi, 
the Heavens, and have contact with persons long dead. These 
are represented by their own spirits known as mauri in their 
lifetime, but now as atua. The recognition of another person 
either living or dead in a dream encounter, however, is not 
necessarily taken to mean that it is his own spirit entity which is 
present. Many dream experiences are the result of the inter- 
position of atua of another kind, spiritual beings who have never 
belonged to human kind and lived upon earth, but who for their 
own purposes, generally malicious, counterfeit familiar forms 
in order to deceive the dreamer. We shall return to this point 

The problem of mobility of the spirit of the dreamer in time 
does not arise for the Tikopia, since any experience which might 
be considered as an incursion into the past or future is sufficiently 
explained by the thesis of spirits of the dead living in the present 
in Rangi, or the powers of counterfeit possessed by non-human 

A question of primary interest is the nature of the dreams 
which natives have, what constitute the " typical dreams " 


of the culture under review. I did not conduct an elaborate 
inquiry on these lines, but such investigations as I made show 
that many of the same types of dream context are found among 
the Tikopia as among ourselves. In this my material agrees with 
the general conclusions of Professor Seligman. 1 

Dreams of physical oppression of the nightmare variety occur, 
and are believed to be due to unidentified atua of the non-human 
category. Such a spirit comes to a man as he lies asleep, steals 
up and presses him down, sitting on his chest or on his belly. 
The presence of the atua is made known to the sleeper by a heavy 
feeling on his body, as of a great weight laid thereon, and to 
onlookers by his uneasy movements. He turns uneasily, grunts, 
and may even call out in his sleep. If his movements are violent 
his neighbours waken him and question him. Such experiences 
are regarded as definitely unpleasant, and may be remembered 
for years afterwards. Thus one informant, a young married man, 
the son of a chief, told me of such an adventure he had when he 
was a child. He went to Maunga Faea, a locality much frequented 
by spirits e tapu and there he chewed betel, chewed betel 
in great quantities. Then he slept and an atua came to him and 
sat on his chest. He shrieked in terror, the spirit disappeared, 
and a few moments afterwards he woke. He was surrounded 
by people who, as it turned out, had awakened him, and to them 
he cursed vigorously, objurgating his ghostly visitant. In this 
case the physiological prelude to his experience was probably 
the amount of betel consumed, but such a reaction is not 
recognized by the natives. The betel may have caused the sleep 
or stupor, as it apparently was but the spirit-haunted spot 
was the cause of the nightmare. To the Tikopia a dream 
experience is a reality not identical with the reality of waking 
life ; contrary to some anthropological opinion, there is no 
confusion between them but an adventure of the spirit. It 
may be deemed true or false as a portrayal of events, the figures 
of the dream may be considered to be masquerading for purposes 
of deception, but their spiritual character is never doubted. 

In fact the experiences of people in dreams are regarded as 
proof of the existence of spirits, and much of the information 
regarding the method of locomotion of these, their appearance, 
speech, and habits, retailed as common knowledge, is derived 
from the dreams in which they play a part. In discussing the 
movements of atua, Pa Fenuatara, a particularly intelligent 
informant, said, " Persons in this land see them in a dream, in 
sleep at night." Dreams are valuable circumstantial evidence 
for the reality of the spirit world. 

A spirit afflicts a man in sleep for various reasons, pure spite 
being the commonest, but one explanation given is more 

1 Man, 1923, 120. 


charitable. The spirit comes to the sleeper because, it is alleged, 
it finds itself on a strange path in its wanderings, it does not see 
any light thereon, and says to itself, "The way is dark, I will 
return to men." Then it approaches a person and touches him. 

An outcome of the belief that a person is always liable to 
molestation by strange spirits is the habit of the Tikopia of not 
sleeping with an axe or knife by his side. An atua may come to 
him and deceive him, pretending that it is a man coming to 
fight him. Then the sleeper, alarmed, seizes the weapon and 
blindly slashes with it, to the danger of property or life. He may 
cut a house-post, or even injure someone. The absence of intent 
in such a case is well recognized by others. " He strikes blindly 
only, and indeed that person is foolish, he is sleeping. " 

Dreams of personal activity of a violent order, with an un- 
pleasant affective reaction, are not infrequent among the Tikopia. 
The dream of running with clogged feet, impelled to flee yet held 
back by invisible restraint while some being, either man or 
spirit, is in pursuit, is well known. The Ariki Taumako, a chief 
of vigorous and somewhat dour personality, who formerly had 
several experiences of this type, assigned the cause of the clogged 
feet to the subject's sleeping with knees drawn up e me peru. 
If a man sleeps with his legs straight out e fora and is chased 
by a ghost in a dream, then he is free to run, but if he is in a 
bent position, his flight must be impeded. This logical explana- 
tion, it will be noted, does not appeal to physiological factors as 
the cause of the dream but only as a factor of limitation within 
it ; the dream itself, the spirit encounter, is an independent 
matter already assumed. 

The remark of the Ariki that he formerly experienced the dream 
of clogged feet is significant. According to his own statement 
he no longer has this. The same is true of the dream of jumping 
from a cliff. As a commoner (tayata vare) not yet elected to the 
chieftainship, he often experienced this sensation in sleep ; 
nowadays he is not subject to it " because I have become chief ". 
The differential liability of commoners and chiefs to dreams of 
nightmarish type or to bad dreams as a whole is acknowledged 
to be general. It rests upon the responsibility which the chiefs 
feel for the lives and prosperity of their people. Unpleasant dreams 
they regard as portents of evil, and a chief having had a vivid 
experience of this kind is considerably disturbed, and speculates as 
as to its meaning. " Sleeps the chief, dreams badly, wakes with a 
start then, and thinks what it may be, a man will die, or a hurricane 
will strike ? " The precise form of the misfortune is uncertain but 
some disaster is indicated. There is no doubt that the chiefs take 
their responsibilities seriously in this as in other respects. With 
common people, however as with a future chief before his 
election there are no cares of such magnitude, and a bad dream 


is not regarded as necessarily ominous, and is treated more 
lightly. This difference in the weight attached to the dreams of 
chiefs and commoners is in line with distinctions made in many 
other social spheres. Whether chiefs actually do practically 
cease to have such unpleasant dreams which would indicate 
a high degree of co-ordination of their mental and social norms 
I am not prepared to say. I have only statements made privately 
as above. 

Dreams of violent action of a kind common to other cultures, 
including our own, are general in Tikopia. A person is walking 
up in the hills, and either jumps or falls over a cliff, and wakes 
with a start ; he is afraid and runs ; he goes for a walk and sees 
people fighting, or he himself has a struggle and kills a man. 
The significance given to such dreams varies with individual 
preoccupation, and they may be entirely neglected. 

The dream of losing a tooth has no stock meaning. " A man 
may dream that a tooth has dropped out, he wakes up, but no ! 
the tooth is still there. There is no meaning to it." 

Certain types of dreams are, however, regarded as being of 
more importance than others, and definite interpretation may 
be assigned them. These are concerned particularly with the 
pursuit of fishing, and the sphere of birth, sickness, and death 
all, it may be noted, aspects of human life peculiarly liable 
to chance, and therefore apparently where some degree of 
assurance in advance is welcomed. 

Birth dreams embody a certain kind of personal activity, 
of a neutral order. A woman dreams that she goes to the stream, 
fills her water-bottles, and puts them in a kit on her back. It 
is believed that this indicates she will conceive and bear a girl- 
child. Or if she goes out fishing with a kuti, a small scoop-net 
used on the reef by women, then the same interpretation is 
attached. Dreams of a similar type associated with pursuits of 
sea-fishing portend the conception of a man-child. 

" She who sits there, will sit in pregnancy, will bear a male." 
This dream has the same result, whether the woman has previously 
conceived or not. Any one of the kano o paito, the relatives, is 
competent to give an indication of this kind ; a person in the 
family dreams, of so-and-so, and announces the next morning 
that she will bear a child. The husband of the woman is also 
an eligible subject for such dreams. 

Dreams of death also occur. Seremata, a young bachelor 
and expert fisherman, for example, dreams on occasions that 
he sees a canoe approaching shore with some of his relatives in 
it. The canoe runs in on a breaker, then swings and overturns 
an accident which happens in real life. This he accepts as an 
indication that someone of his relatives will die, and waits 
accordingly for the news. 


Death dreams in Tikopia have, as one might expect, a tragic, 
gloomy, or disturbing context. They are not of the irrelevant 
type found in some native communities. There is usually a 
fairly close correlation between the affective character of the 
dream and that of the real experience supposed to be foreshadowed 
by it. Dreams of personal action, as of being chased by a spirit 
or of falling from a cliff, do not usually share this character of 
portents. They are regarded as events completed at the moment, 
not to be resolved in the future perhaps since the final issue 
of the dream is really successful. Unpleasant scenes witnessed 
in a dream foretell undesirable events. 

Another variant of the canoe dream is one in which the omen 
is given by the nature of the fish caught. Seremata says : "A 
man sleeping sees a canoe coming in with fish. He is looking 
at a good thing if it has brought hither fish in plenty, but if 
it is concerned with a shark, a shark the body of which has fallen 
in, is emaciated, is like a sick man, then the dream is bad, a 
man of his family group, or he himself will die." The association 
here between the gaunt appearance of the fish " with ribs 
showing " is the idea conveyed by the term maki in the original ; 
the same word is also used as a substantive, denoting epidemic 
disease and the appearance of a sick man is very clear, especially 
when reinforced by this simile used by the narrator himself. 
Again our informant remarks : 

" I will be asleep, and will see my father, who is dead, enter. 
I look at him, and his body is good, that is he comes well- 
intentioned ; but he comes and his body is bad, it is unsightly, 
as it were, like that of a person who is ill, that means he is angry, 
he is on the point of coming to afflict the family group. If I 
decide to narrate this to my relatives I do so ; but if not, I sit 
then and observe the signs/* Here the omens are derived from 
the physical appearance of the spirit dreamed of : the native 
term par a here translated as " unsightly " denotes such conditions 
as wrinkled, rough, scaly skin, a disintegration of the flesh, an 
unpleasant condition of the body, which is held to be a reflex 
of the state of mind of the atua. For some insult or neglect, real 
or fancied it would hardly be pure malice, from one's own father 
he intends to visit disease or death on some member of the 
family circle. 

As already indicated, however, dreams of evil are not always 
significant of illness or death ; here as in other dream interpreta- 
tions there is considerable variation. Thus, quoting Seremata 
again : "I will be sleeping in Ravenga here, my relatives are 
dwelling in Faea. I sleep, the funeral of one of them takes place, 
when it is light the following day I go then to him, I go, go, he 
is sitting there, no ! a deception merely/' Such dreams may be 
a correct forecast or may correspond to no reality. As he says, 


" There is no sign for it that I know " (Siei se fakamailoya mona 
kau iroa). 

There is one notable exception to the general rule that dreams 
of unpleasant events are to be construed as pointing to mis- 
fortune. This is in regard to fishing, particularly from a canoe 
at sea. The 'convention is that contact with human excrement 
in a dream is the sign of a good catch on the following day. 
Pu Rangifau, white-haired and frail, but once a famous ocean- 
rover and deep-sea fisherman, speaks of such a dream in his 
quaint style : 

" The canoe is pulled, pulled then on to a bad place. A 
person sleeps, looks at the fish of the canoe being obtained. It 
came to rest then at the place which is bad. The person wakes 
and says, ' Talk of the land about my dream ! I slept then of 
the canoe which will slip ashore hither/ We speak to him, ' That 
there, a fish dream is that thing/ Goes to sea, brings hither the 
fish, is correct the person who sleeping had his dream. The canoe 
is set in a filthy place, that is a fish dream ; we know that a 
fish dream is that thing/' 

This statement, though cryptic, describes the dream of a 
person in regard to his family canoe. He dreams that he sees 
it at sea, fishing, then, paddled inshore, and having shot the 
breakers, hauled up on land where it comes to rest on a spot 
defiled by excrement (" a bad place "). Waking, he narrates his 
dream to the household, who identify it as a token of a good 
catch, an interpretation which later events justify. 

To dream that one's hand is smeared with ordure is also 
a fish dream indicating that one will haul up a shark at the 
next trip of the canoe to sea. The interpretation of unpleasant 
material, excrement, as signifying success, and abundance of 
fish is a curious piece of symbolism and difficult to explain, though 
the psychoanalyst might be able to provide a solution. The 
suggestion of association with ordure is unpleasant to the Tikopia 
in ordinary life, as is shown by the commonest form of curse, 
" May your father eat filth/' In esoteric formulae, however, the 
higher gods are requested to excrete upon the land and into the 
sea, this being explained by the natives themselves as a 
deprecatory metaphor for the granting of fruits and fish as food 
supply. The identification of fish with excrement in this case 
may give point to the dream interpretation, though I have no 
confirmation of this from natives, for whom this association 
is an unexplained convention. One may wonder to what extent 
the knowledge of this convention actually produces the 
appropriate dream, and how far such dreams occur to fishermen 
in contrast with other members of the community. On this 
point I have no precise information, but the impression I received 
was that this was the dream of tautai, sea-experts, who had it 


more frequently than others. It was mostly with such men that 
these dreams were discussed. 

The degree of rigidity in attaching a stock meaning to dreams 
is of importance. With fish dreams, as elsewhere, there is no 
absolute interpretation which is automatically adopted by the 
dreamer. Out in a canoe on the lake in the early morning I 
once heard Pa Fenuatara tell of a dream which he had had the 
night before, in which he had trodden into excrement and defiled 
his foot. This was at the time of the sacred fishing expedition 
in which all the clans engage in competitive spirit, striving as 
to who shall bring home the first shark. But Pa Fenuatara was in 
doubt as to the meaning of his dream. " A fish dream, for certain/' 
said one of the paddlers. " I don't know ! " said Pa Fenuatara 
reflectively, and continued to ponder over it for some time. 

Each dreamer is liable to be uncertain as to the significance 
of his experience, until events have proved the correctness or 
otherwise of his surmise. He submits his dream to the opinions 
of others but accepts their judgments tentatively, holding his 
own verdict in suspense to await results. Dreams may be true 
or false, and as Seremata says, there are no signs by which we 
may know them until they have been confirmed or refuted by 
the passage of time. 

Inquiry into the reason for the falsity of dreams brings us 
back once again to the Tikopia theory of the motive power 
of dream experiences in general. They are the result of spiritual 
manifestations, of one's own spirit entity the mauri in contact 
with the external world, the mauri of other persons, or atua, 
the spirits of the dead, or beings outside the human range 
altogether. Some atua are well-disposed and truthful, as those 
of one's fishing-canoe, who are allied with the family and send 
fish-dreams to replenish the family larder. Others are mischievous 
or ill-natured, such as the spirits of the woods, of the earth, and 
of the ocean-floor, beings who, never having borne the vesture 
of humanity, have no social affiliations with men, and desire to 
wreak on them an in j ury where possible . Hence they are responsible 
for dreams which do not mirror the future from a true angle, 
they misrepresent the situation, and deceive mortals. It behoves 
a man always to be on his guard, lest by accepting the con- 
ventional interpretation of a dream too readily he be tricked 
and led into a snare. It is for this reason that persons, however 
ready to attach a definite meaning to the dreams of others, are 
usually cautious regarding the explanation of their own, until 
such time as events seem to justify a conclusion. 

At the same time the doctrine of truth and falsity of dreams 
allows the belief in the virtue of dreams as omens to remain 
intact. Any dream the immediate sequel to which violates the 
general convention of interpretation is at once diagnosed as 


a lying dream, one sent by ill-disposed spirits to deceive the 
dreamer and confuse his course of action. 

This brings us to the consideration of dreams of sexual 
intercourse, from which general category dreams of incest need 
not be here distinguished. Such experiences are not infrequent, 
among married men as among bachelors, and among women 
also. The object of the dream may be an unknown person, a 
fellow villager or a member of the immediate household. 
The explanation advanced by the Tikopia is the same in 
each case. If it were possible to discuss them in detail, it could 
be shown how dream experiences of a sexual type are held to be 
inspired by malignant spirits who take on the form of a person 
of the opposite sex, even of a near relative, and invite to connec- 
tion. The mind of the dreamer is swayed to compliance, and 
on awakening the deed is realized. 

This principle of dealing with such dreams on the basis of 
spirit-impersonation has two important functions. In the first 
place it tends to avoid any serious emotional disturbance 
occasioned by the thought of having violated a taboo a man 
knows that he has not had relations, even in the spirit, with his 
mother, his clan-sister, or the wife of a friend, but with a stranger, 
an impersonator of these. There is no moral judgment involved, 
no feeling .of guilt or shame. The dreamer has committed no 
offence, not even in thought ; he has been duped and constrained 
by false spirits in familiar shape. His reaction is one of anger, 
he curses. He does not remain silent and sad. In this he is in 
a more satisfactory position than the dreamer of the Trobriand 
Islands, as described by Professor Malinowski. 1 The Trobriander 
believes in the reality of the dream-form and is severely disturbed. 
He is fain to explain its incestuous presence by the hypothesis 
of magic accidentally misapplied, but cannot escape the emotional 
consequences of his dream act. The Tikopia is more free : while 
the Trobriander excuses the fact, he denies it. The Tikopia 
knows nothing of magic which works through dreams. It may 
be noted in passing that if a young man dreams of having had 
connection with a girl he does not regard that as an index of 
real desire on either part. If he approached her in the flesh 
with such a tale he would be laughed at as a clumsy liar. Fancy 
trying to attract a girl by pretending that he has had relations 
with her in a dream ! What a story ! She would tell all her 
friends and he would be laughed to scorn. Even if his tale were 
true it would be a female spirit from abroad, not that of the girl 
herself who came to him. Such is the opinion of my native friends 
on this point. 

The theory of spirit-impersonation removes one from the 
necessity of accepting seriously dream encounters which are 

1 Sex and Repression, 1927, p. 96 ; Sexual Life of Savages, 1929, pp. 331-4. 


undesirable. On the other hand it goes deeper into the layers of 
the cultural strata than does the point of view of many native 
peoples. Sexual intercourse in a dream is intercourse with an 
atua t who is possessed of considerable powers, and the result is 
a loss of vitality on the part of the dreamer. The consequence 
is not inevitable, and the event itself decides, but illness may 
easily follow a dream of sexual congress, incestuous or otherwise, 
owing to the malignancy of the impersonating spirit. In practice, 
such a dream is usually produced to assist the diagnosis of an 
existing case of illness. It is even probable that such dream 
experiences are invented or transmuted ad hoc, as when a close 
relative of a chief a few days after the beginning of his illness 
relates an ominous dream alleged to have taken place the night 
before the first signs of sickness were observed. The mechanism 
of this dream diagnosis and the cure cannot be discussed here. 
It is sufficient to indicate that dreams of sexual intercourse, 
including those of incest, take their place along with other 
manifestations of spirit activity in providing an explanation 
for illness, and by consequence a point of departure for healing 
activities. By spirits can spirits be fought, and the whole 
technique of the treatment of disease begins from this general 
basis. The sexual dream has thus a significance far beyond that 
of a mere experience in sleep ; it is an important link in an 
institutional chain. 

As a point of general interest it may be noted that the idea 
of the Tikopia that a dream may be a false reflection of events 
owing to deception practised by spirits bears against the criticism 
which Durkheim has advanced against Tylor's theory of animism. 
Durkheim argues that the savage could speedily find out that 
dream experiences were untrue, an illusion of the imagination, 
by comparing notes when awake with the person thought to be 
encountered in sleep. The inconsistency would soon prove to 
him that his dreams were not to be relied on as evidence, and any 
idea that he might form as to the existence of a separable soul, 
a double of himself, could receive no corroboration therefrom. 1 
The doctrine of the Tikopia anticipates this criticism by 
postulating the existence of further spirits of a mischievous 
order, on whom may be laid the onus of dreams which are not 
in accord with fact. The spirit of the dreamer himself takes 
part in these experiences this is basic but the behaviour 
of other participants in the dream can never be checked because 
though identified as friends and relatives it is possible for them 
to be mere impersonations. The dream as an adventure of one's 
spirit double can never be invalidated by other testimony and 
the native faith in the existence and power of the human spirit 
to wander outside the body remains unshaken. 

1 Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, 1926, p. 57. 


In conclusion a further word may be given on the native 
interpretation of dreams of the portent type. In discussing the 
place of dreams as omens in a primitive community a stock 
meaning for each is often given by the ethnographer, the 
suggestion being that these meanings are constant for all dreams 
of the same type. There is no such rigidity in Tikopia society. 
Similar dreams may be rendered in different ways on different 
occasions, according to the problems of the moment, the stand- 
point of the dreamer, and the course of action he desires. In 
other words, there is considerable elasticity of interpretation, 
stock attributions of meaning are few, and the value that is set 
on a dream tends to be a function of the immediate practical 
situation of the dreamer and his relatives. This flexibility of 
the dream interpretation is one of the factors in preserving 
the belief in dreams. If a dream makes an impression it is told 
to the family circle and its meaning sought. At any given time 
there is a certain background of social interests against which 
it may be set ; a fishing expedition, the future of a newly-married 
pair, and a quarrel over the boundary of an orchard, for example. 
The dream is discussed in this general context, and its bearings 
as an omen decided. But its interpretation is dependent on human 
fallibility : members of the family circle may disagree regarding 
it. Hence when its promise as originally understood is not 
fulfilled, the reason is found in a false attribution. The anticipated 
result did not follow, it is said, because the dream really referred 
to another situation. 

When a dream is not borne out in fact the dreamer may say 
it has lied, whereas other people repudiate this suggestion, 
saying that the dreamer has merely construed it wrongly. To 
reinforce their contention they can usually point to different 
interpretations of their own, slighted at the time, but now 

By admitting the fallibility of human understanding of the 
message vouchsafed by spirits, credence in the genuineness of 
that message may be retained unimpaired. Thus an institution 
or a belief persists in society, turning its very failures as weapons 
against the human agents who might be tempted to call its 
validity in question. 



The analysis of the drives which actuate the behaviour of 
primitive folk presents one of the most difficult problems 
confronting the cultural anthropologist, since it necessitates 
a comprehension of traditional values entirely foreign to the 
observer's own background. Among the non-literate Negro 
peoples of West Africa and the New World, this same problem 
is heightened in interest by the widely spread distribution of 
patterns of behaviour that reflect a characteristic psychological 
" set ". An example, taken at random from the travel literature 
of the West Indies, will serve to illustrate the point. The account 
tells of a " Danse Congo " held on a small island off the coast of 
Haiti. This dance was given by the richest man on the island, 
one Polynice, and host and guests were having a fine time of 
it ; yet one of the songs sung by a guest was : 

" Polynice is the tax-collector. He comes riding at night on 
his white horse to rob us ; we will drive him away with stones, 
and a misfortune will happen to him/' 

The observer, commenting on this song, states that Polynice 
" accepted it without malice ", and " doubtless would have felt 
hurt and neglected if they hadn't sung it ". 1 

Investigators, seeking understanding of the significance of 
occurrences such as this, have turned to the concepts of the 
various schools of psychology for aid, and anthropological 
literature does contain numerous psychological interpretations. 
However, analyses of primitive behaviour based on the Freudian 
postulates are seldom encountered. The reasons for this are not 
difficult to see. The method of the Freudians themselves has 
been one of clinical analysis, and when the psychoanalysts have 
stepped out of their clinics to apply their theories to society as 
a whole, and particularly to primitive man, their disregard of 
anthropological methodology has carried its own conviction 
of insufficiency. Like all other disciplines, anthropology has 
special techniques to cope with its problems. Those unacquainted 
with cultures other than their own, except through an outdated 
literature that persists in the concept of the primitive man as 
a child, are easily captivated by the speciously convincing 

1 W. B. Seabrook, The Magic Island, pp. 225-6. 


character of deductions as to " origins " drawn by the use of a 
methodology that is now discredited. As a result, one witnesses 
such scientifically unacceptable conclusions as those presented 
by Freud in Totem and Taboo, to cite one of the earliest 
examples or, to cite one of the latest instances, the arguments of 
Rank in his volume Art and Artist* 

It is not necessary to do more than to state these facts, 
however, since both the dangers to the anthropologist in too 
fervent a devotion to the Freudian system, and the gains which 
should accrue from a realization of its significance as a technique 
to be used with other methods, have recently been fully assessed. 2 
As has been suggested, anthropological recognition of the 
availability of psychoanalysis as a tool to be tested, and, if valid, 
applied in the study of primitive social behaviour, together with 
the recognition by at least one psychoanalyst of the necessity 
of studying primitive cultures at first-hand through field 
investigation, 3 gives hope that the question of its degree of 
applicability to the problems of anthropology may soon be 

In this paper it is proposed merely to indicate certain aspects 
of the psychology of primitive Negro cultural behaviour which 
may be the better understood when some of the broader, simpler 
concepts of psychoanalysis are applied to their interpretation. It is 
not intended to do more than to present and point out the definite 
material contained here. Thus, we will not be concerned with the 
question whether or not the fact that the dream-interpretation 
of the Dutch Guiana Negroes, " if a person dreams he sees 
snakes, that means he has enemies/ 1 is of significance for the 
Freudian theory of dream-symbolism ; whether or not " when 
you dream of monkeys, it is Obia Winti 4 that is seeking to come 
to you " derives from sex-symbolism or from the historic fact 
that, in West Africa, it is the supernatural monkey-like " little 
people " of the bush who are believed to have given magic to 
men. Nor will we concern ourselves with the validity of con- 
clusions such as expressed by the student who, having drunk 

1 For example, on p. 170 of the English translation Rank provides us with 
the following, which is only one of the many statements of its kind that might 
be quoted : " The primitive precursor of this head -gathered pillar-man of 
Greece may be found in the wooden house-pillar of art in the South Seas ..." 

* C. G. Seligman, " Anthropological Perspective and Psychological Theory," 
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, vol. Ixii (1932), pp. 193-228. 

* Geza R6heim, " Psychoanalytic Technique and Field Anthropology," Inter- 
national Journal of Psychoanalysis, vol. xiii (1932), pp. 6-22. However, the 
exaggerated field-technique of R6heim, as revealed in this and other papers, and 
his unquestioning acceptance of Freudian terminology, coupled with his un- 
disguisedly emotional strictures on the acceptability of Malinowski's study of 
the Oedipus complex among the Trobriand Islanders, make one fear that this 
grain of acceptable material will be so far overshadowed by the faults of the 
work that its chief result will be further to prejudice anthropologists against 
psychoanalysis as a working technique. 

4 An Obia spirit. 


deeply at the Freudian fountain, remarked that the slouching 
gait of American Negroes is due to a castration complex, 
for it was obvious that he had not observed the motor behaviour 
of Africans, or for that matter, of New World Negroes, carrying 
head-burdens. What is to be reported here are field data, with 
native interpretations of them which suggest the availability of 
psychoanalytic concepts as an aid to understanding primitive 

Among the most widely employed concepts of psychoanalysis 
are those of repression and compensation. Together with the 
associated concept of the unconscious, it may be said that the 
mechanisms implied by these two words are basic to 
psychoanalytic theory. It is, therefore, not without interest that 
we find numerous examples of these mechanisms in Negro 
cultures ; not only this, but that there exists both a recognition 
of the nature of the neuroses as induced by repression, and 
of the therapeutic value of bringing a repressed thought 
into the open, though the explanation of the phenomenon is 
usually given in terms of the working of supernatural forces. 
It seems valid to assume that this sanctioned release of inhibited 
feelings was at the basis of the Haitian performance recounted 
at the beginning of this paper, and this conclusion becomes 
inescapable when knowledge of the historical derivation of the 
practice of singing songs which state grievances against those 
in power is available to reinforce the psychological explanation. 
For socially institutionalized release constitutes an outstanding 
characteristic of the Negro cultures of West Africa and of the 
New World. That this is the case among the Ashanti is testified 
by Captain Rattray. Thus, during the apo and similar ceremonies, 
to revile those in power or about to assume power is not only 
permitted but urged, the reason being given that this is done so 
that the soul of the one who rules will not be sickened by the evil 
thoughts held against him by those whom he may have angered. 1 
Similarly, in explaining the broadness of the action in many 
Ashanti folk-tales, Captain Rattray gives the native explanation 
of how it is held to be " good " for people to discuss and laugh at 
things otherwise forbidden. He concludes that " West Africans 
had discovered for themselves the truth of the psycho-analysts' 
theory of ' repression ', and that in these ways they sought an 
outlet for what might otherwise have become a dangerous 
complex ". 2 

In Dahomey, the institution of the avogan, the dance in the 
market-place, is similarly recognized by the natives as affording 
release for suppressed emotions. At stated periods the people 

1 R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, pp. 151-171. See especially the songs quoted on 
pp. 156-7. 

1 R. S. Rattray, Akan- Ashanti Folk-Tales, pp. ix-xii. 


of each of the quarters of the city of Abomey have in turn their 
opportunity to stage such a dance. Crowds come to see the display 
and to watch the dancing, but, most of all, to listen to the songs 
and to laugh at the ridicule to which are held those who have 
offended members of the quarter giving the dance. Names are 
ordinarily not mentioned, for then fighting may result. In 
any event, the African relishes innuendo and circumlocution too 
well to be satisfied with bald, direct statement. However, 
everyone who is present already knows to whom reference is 
being made. Thus the song might be : 

" Woman, thy soul is misshapen. 
In haste was it made, in haste. 
So fleshless a face speaks, telling 
Thy soul was formed without care. 
The ancestral clay for thy making 
Was moulded in haste, in haste. 
A thing of no beauty art thou, 
Thy face unsuited to be a face, 
Thy feet unsuited for feet/' 1 

A name may be used, but usually it is one given for the 
occasion, and employed as a symbol of baseness or treachery : 

* " Call Adjevu to me, I would insult her . . /' 

This same release through song is accorded co- wives. Nothing 
could have offered more striking testimony of the manner in 
which songs of this kind have a welcome place in domestic 
Dahomean life than the reaction of the wives of a chief who 
were asked to sing some of them. The first response was shocked 
amazement that anyone not a Dahomean suspected the existence 
of such songs ; when, however, they were convinced that this 
was more than a shot in the dark, their amazement gave way to 
peals of laughter before and after the singing. In the following 
song, which may serve as an example, the recrimination of one 
co-wife against another a princess is masked by the reference 
to her as a " man of rank " ; the singing takes place while the 
women work together in a court-yard of their husband's 
compound : 

" O son of King Hwegbadja 
To you I bring news 
With you I leave word 

That a man of rank who kills and then steals is here. 
Something has been lost in this house 
And the owner has not found it. 
The man of rank who kills and then steals , 
Has been here/' 

1 I am indebted to Mrs. Herskovits for this translation. 


Even the play of fancy in a language unknown to outsiders is 
not scorned by the West Africans to get release from repressed 
grievances, and this is especially true where their impotence 
against European control is concerned. The experience of 
companies who have recorded West African songs sung by 
Africans in European ports which, when offered for sale in West 
Africa, were found to have their popularity rest especially on the 
fact that many of them made sport of the Whites, is a case in 

As in West Africa, so in the New World this channelling of 
emotional release takes characteristic forms. Among the most 
picturesque of these is the lobi singi of the Negroes of the coastal 
region of Dutch Guiana, especially of Paramaribo. This socially 
recognized form of ridicule is most often directed against a woman 
who has taken a man away from another. Less ritualized, the 
lobi singi may take place between two women who have 
quarrelled if, while the two are both working in a compound-yard, 
one of them sings songs which, though traditional in words and 
melody, have a reference that everyone present recognizes as 
applicable to the other. In the ritualized form, however, the 
ceremony of recrimination is one which takes preparation and 
must be carefully staged. A musical accompaniment is provided, 
and the friends of the aggrieved woman, dressed in their best, 
come to assist her in shaming her rival. The locale of the 
performance is the yard of the compound where the offender lives, 
and this woman, at the appointed time, barricades herself in her 
cabin and gives no sign. The occasion has been well advertised, 
and many spectators are present when the injured woman arrives 
with her friends and the music. 

The players arrange themselves before the tightly-shut 
house ; the music to one side, the audience making a cleared 
space for the dancing. The songs are all of leader-and-chorus 
type, and the phrase ending the chorus is sung with a 
few dancing steps, accompanied by a disdainful lifting in back 
of the voluminous skirts of the traditional dress of the Paramaribo 
Negro women. As the steps are executed, the exclamation 
" Ha ! Ha ! " is heard. The words of the songs are to-day no 
longer as pointed as they were before recourse to the Dutch 
courts on charges of slander made watchfulness necessary. But 
the songs sung at the present are still adequately suggestive, as 
examples demonstrate : 

" What can an ant do 
With a cow's head ? 
Ha! Ha! 

She must eat the meat, 
And leave the bones. 
Ha! Ha!" 


Again the injured woman may sing : 

" You are handsomer than I 
You are fatter than I 
But I am sweeter than you. 
Ha! Ha! 

That is why, my treasure, 
My treasure, cannot bear, 
To leave a sweet rose 
To come to the house of a crab. 
Ha! Ha!" 

Or, she may tell how the man who has jilted her was worthless 
until she took him up : 

"When I bought my cow, my cow, 
When I bought my cow, 
When I bought my cow, my cow, 
My cow did not even have horns ! " 

It must be recognized that the Negro sees in the lobi singi a 
twofold purpose to make the woman who has been wronged 
" feel better " and also to castigate the offender with ridicule. 
And those who have worked with Negroes know that ordinarily 
they prefer a blow to ridicule. 

There is, however, still another type of lobi singi, which 
affords the release that comes through public confession and 
public proclamation of the intention to turn to a new and better 
way of life. A girl who has been promiscuous and who later 
desires a respected place in the community, herself leads the 
singing, and the songs dwell on her past mode of life ; the young 
men she has led astray, the women she has wronged, her intention 
to reform. Whatever the lines, the members of the chorus do not 
fail to end with the dancing steps and the exclamation " Ha ! 
Ha 1 ". The following is an example of the songs sung at a lobi 
singi given by a young woman for herself : 

" If I were a rich man 
I would buy a large farm. 
And what would I plant in it ? 
And what would I plant in it ? 
I would plant experience in it 
So that when I went out 
Experience would be a perfume for my body. 
Ha ! Ha ! " 

That repression is a cause of neurosis is an elementary tenet 
of psychoanalysis ; the fact, explained in different terms, has 
been recognized by Negroes in even more explicit fashion than 
in the instances which have been quoted. Often the explanation 
of the importance of release takes the form of assuming 


supernatural vengeance as a cause of the ills that follow on 
repression. Instances from the beliefs of both African and New 
World Negroes which demonstrate this are to be found ; however, 
it will suffice to restrict examples to certain institutions studied 
in Guiana. The most explicit statement, one that would be 
instantly recognized as valid by any psychologist, has to do 
with the cause of insanity. The Paramaribo Negroes see it as 
bound up with the winti, as the African spirits worshipped 
by the coastal Negroes of Guiana are named. These spirits, 
which are inherited, are thought to come to an individual at 
about the age of puberty, after which active worship in the 
form of dancing to drums takes place. Everywhere in the New 
World, before and after emancipation of the slaves, pressure has 
been used by European officials to discourage the worship of 
these pagan deities. This has driven the worship of African 
gods in this instance the winti more and more into secret 
ritual. Yet the forbidden dances do take place. In Paramaribo 
dancing is permitted several times during the year, and then the 
adherents of the winti worship them openly. But there are some 
winti who drive their followers to more frequent worship with an 
urgency that cannot be denied ; and at such times a basin, over- 
turned in a larger container of water, is struck to simulate the 
drums ordinarily employed and the devotees dance. Were they to 
inhibit the call of the gods to dance and persist in their refusal 
over an extended period of time, the Negroes say they would go 
insane. Indeed, the winti- worshippers insist that the insanity 
found among the Christian Negroes of Paramaribo is due to 
this cause. It is believed that these persons have inherited 
spirits, and because their new religion prohibits dancing for them, 
the resistance to doing the bidding of the inherited gods robs 
them of their reason that is, the spirits which " possess " them 
drive them mad. 

, An even clearer appreciation of the consequences of repressing 
emotions in this case, anger, bitterness, or hatred is seen in 
the Guiana concept of fiofio. Historically, this can be related 
to that same apo ceremony which Rattray has described among 
the Ashanti, that period of release from the ordinary 
social controls that marked the time when a man might make 
free with anyone, even the King himself. In Suriname, 
however, the form of the belief is different from the institu- 
tionalized license that marks the African periods of freedom from 
restraint. Fiofio is primarily the name of an insect. However, 
it is also conceived as a spirit which, taking the form of this insect, 
enters the body, causing illness and even death. This deadly 
presence is brought on when a quarrel between intimates has 
not been followed by a reconciliation, and when some gesture of 
affection occurs between such participants to a quarrel at a later 


date ; in a phrase, when hypocrisy, conscious or unconscious, is 
practised, the souls of those concerned are resentful, and their 
owners sicken and die. An example will make clear the concept 
and the behaviour resulting from it. We may suppose that two 
close friends, or two relatives, or two persons who are members 
of the same household have quarrelled, and no reconciliation 
has been effected. Time passes, the incident loses its importance, 
and gradually the two may no longer even consciously remember 
that it had taken place, so that a normal friendly relationship 
is resumed. Then one of them accepts something from the 
other. Since the inner hurt has never been healed, ill-luck bad 
crops, illness, children stillborn befalls one or the other of 
them, or both. Diviners are consulted, and if it is the long- 
standing difference that is shown to be the cause of the trouble, 
the ceremonial retraction known as puru mofo literally, " with- 
draw from the mouth " takes place. The one who has wronged 
the other calls on the soul of the wronged one, saying : 

" Akra Kwami, 1 I did not mean to offend you. I was hasty. 
Do not avenge yourself on me, or on my wife, or our children. 
I beg you, overlook what I said and do not bear me any ill-will." 

He takes water in his mouth, and spurts it over his doorway three 
times, repeating the formula each time. The retraction is 
preceded and followed by ceremonial washing " to wash fiofio " 
is the native phrase when the parties to the quarrel pronounce 
this formula : 

" Just as this broom sweeps heaviness away, so, too, must 
your heaviness go away. Just as the mother hen carries her 
child until it breaks the egg, 2 so everything that you carry must 
break and come into the open." 

Should the ceremonial retraction not take place, it is believed 
death will ensue. To have honest dislikes is natural enough and, 
says the native, these do a man no harm ; it is only when quarrels 
are masked in surface friendliness and an ancient grudge is 
harboured that it is dangerous to make an exchange of belongings 
or accept any gesture of affection. 

The discussion thus far has had to do with socially sanctioned 
mechanisms which permit of release from inhibitions and conflicts 
of various sorts. What has been shown is that among the 
primitive Negroes, both in Africa and the New World, patterned 
types of psychic purges are recognized as valid ; what is important 
for a psychoanalytic approach to the understanding of these 

1 That is, " Saturday soul." 

* The imagery here is somewhat confusing ; the meaning is " Just as the 
chick emerges from the egg-shell, so the sickness must leave the person who 
is ill ". 


social data is the fact that, in every case, the native explanation 
of the particular type of behaviour, though ordinarily couched 
in terms of the supernatural, can be restated in terms of the 

Less sharply pointed toward Freudian mechanisms, but never- 
theless intelligible in terms of compensation through rationaliza- 
tion, are the following attitudes from Dahomey. Among a people 
where the worship of gods and ancestors plays as prominent a 
role as it does there, it is necessary to explain national mishaps 
on grounds other than the powerlessness of these beings who 
rule the destiny of the living, for it is clear that doubt in their 
power would rob the Dahomean of the security he feels in the 
structure of his world. Rationalizations of such mishaps, 
therefore, are not lacking. A small-pox scourge or a locust 
plague is a punishment meted out for the misdeeds of the living, 
for a breach against supernatural decrees. Defeat in a battle 
comes as punishment for violating the edict of an ancient 
ancestor that there be peace ; the conquest by the French is 
accounted for by the fact that King Glele, the father of that 
Behanzin who was the reigning monarch when the French took 
Dahomey, had advised his son against war, and especially 
against war with the Whites who were the makers of implements 
of war guns and gunpowder. Because, therefore, Behanzin 
followed his own headstrong course, the ancestors would not 
support him, and Dahomey fell. Since it is not always 
convenient to comply with the non- worldly edicts of the ancestors 
for some of them were short-sighted humans, and the Dahomean 
laughs as he tells of these rulings it is the letter of the law which 
is often obeyed to cope with such taboos, but not the spirit. 
Thus for the ancestor who enjoined peace, a village has been 
selected and ordered to remain forever at peace. When King 
Tegbesu found it tiresome to have the marks of the leopard's 
claws cicatrized on his forehead, as the ancestors commanded, 
and in consequence remain inaccessible to all other humans, 
he designated a man to act as his substitute for the observance 
of this, and himself took all the prerogatives of kingship, and 
the freedom to enjoy them as well. Since it was felt that there 
were spiritual dangers in warring against other kingdoms who 
had powerful gods of their own, it was not the King of Dahomey 
who declared war, who directed the campaign, and who took the 
slaves. The Minister of War did the first two, and the soldiers 
did the last. During a war the King's tall stool was occupied 
by the commanding general, and the King himself sat on a low 
stool, and nominally he was under this officer. When slaves 
were captured, each soldier received from the King's hand a 
few cowries admittedly a ceremonial gesture and thus " sold " 
each of the captives to the King, on whom no vengeance could 


then fall, for he was only engaging in barter. It is significant 
that this payment was called " washing the hands ". 

Another instance of behaviour immediately available for 
Freudian analysis may be given. This trait differs somewhat 
from those heretofore discussed, and is taken from the customs 
of the Bush-Negroes of Suriname, a people whose isolation in 
the bush has largely protected their African culture from 
European influence. The example to be cited contributes 
material for the consideration of the extent to which the Oedipus 
complex may be variously shaped in different cultures. 
Malinowski has shown that among the strongly matrilineal 
people of the Trobriand Islands, the Oedipus complex in its 
classic form is not found, but that the unconscious hatreds 
are transferred to the maternal uncle, the incest-wish to the 
sister. 1 The social organization of the Bush-Negroes is legally 
matrilineal, spiritually patrilineal, resembling in its double 
exogamic features the principal outlines of the Gold Coast type 
from which it derives. 2 What, then, is the form this " nuclear 
complex " takes in such a society ? 

It was not in an investigation of Bush-Negro psychological 
processes, but during an attempt to obtain as much detail as 
possible regarding death-customs, that the answer came in 
terms of an Oedipus reaction as " correct " psychoanalytically 
as though it had been stated by Freud himself. The question 
which had been asked was, " When a man dies, do they destroy 
his house ? " And the reply : " Not unless he has done black 
magic. If it is an ordinary man, his widow lives there with his 
daughters." " What happens to his sons ? " " They are sent 
away for a long time." " Why ? " " Because the soul of a 
man loves his daughters but hates his sons, and if they remained 
in his house, his ghost would kill them." " And if a woman 
dies ? " " Then the husband continues to live there with his 
sons, for if it is a woman's ghost, she will destroy her daughters. 
But her sons, she loves them and watches over them." 

1 Cf. Sex and Repression in Savage Society, passim. 

8 Cf. M. J. Herskovits, " The Social Organization of the Bush-Negroes of 
Suriname," Proceedings of the XXIII International Congress of Americanists, 1928 
(New York, 1930), pp. 713-727. 

Northwestern University, 


The work of Sir John Marshall exempts me from the task 
of proving that art in India from the first century B.C. follows 
the same curve, exhibits in succession the same symptoms as 
the art of Greece or of the Middle Ages. 1 He leaves me only 
to sum up the results. 

Like the archaic art of Greece and the work of the medieval 
Primitive Painters, the Indian art of before Christ is distinguished 
by good and leisurely craftsmanship, but faulty technique. 
It has not yet mastered its materials. Its ambitions are not 
high, yet the performance is good. It does not strive, but is 
easily contented. It is interested in things, not ideas. It likes 
above all things to tell a story. The gates of Sanchi, one of 
which has been cast for the Indian Section of the Victoria and 
Albert Museum, are covered with Buddhist legends told in a 
simple spirit. So were the somewhat later monuments of 
Amaravati, the spoils of which adorn the staircase of the British 

Narrative gradually fades away, and sculpture devotes 
itself increasingly to the portrayal of ideal figures. It enters 
on what we may call the classical phase which culminates in 
the fourth and fifth centuries of our era, the period known as 
the Gupta era. It has all the characteristics which mark classical 
art elsewhere : mastery of technique, perfection of form, 
aspirations that do not transcend the means of expression, self- 
restraint, the complete adaptation of the means to the end. 
Among its finest productions is to be numbered the Sanchi 
torso at the Victoria and Albert Museum. 

Gupta art, like all art, passes its zenith and declines into a 
florid and elegant, but nerveless accomplishment. Then comes 
the revolt against form without content, against the excessive 
restraint imposed by classical standards of perfection. It is 
the romantic period of Indian art. The emotions rise up against 
the tyranny of intellect, and in the pursuit of intensity destroy 
form. The revolt is in full swing in the seventh century. Even 
those who do not like its violence and defiance, its exaggeration 
and cult of the monstrous, must allow a certain greatness to 

1 Sketch of Indian Antiquities, Calcutta (Government Press). For Egypt, 
Greece, Europe, see Sir W. Flinders Petrie's Revolutions of Civilization, London, 


86 A. M. HOCART 

that art : at all events it is better than the inanities of late 
Gupta, just as our romantics, with all their faults, are better 
than their artificial and hackneyed predecessors. It may be 
unhealthy, but it is powerful. 1 Being a revolt against the period 
immediately preceding it, it harks back to archaic models. 
(Decadence is always archaistic.) Old types and old subjects 
are revived ; but no expert will ever mistake an archaistic for 
an archaic piece of work. The spirit is entirely different, and 
the spirit always peeps through the surface of imitation. The 
romantic art of India delights in the presentation of old myths 
which had suffered the eclipse of Buddhism ; but it is not the 
story that really interests the artist, but the opportunity for 
emotional expression and for flaunting an aggressive creed. 
The moral bias is typical of decadence. 

The revolt wears itself out : the energy departs ; the 
monstrous ceases to be vigorous and is merely tame, and nothing 
is left but that standardized and uninspired art which is the only 
Indian art known to most Europeans. 

It is the final phase of Indian art which Prof. C. G. Seligman 
had in view when he classed the Indians as an introvert people. 
He was thinking of the classical period of the Greeks when he 
put them down as extraverts. The characteristics which he 
has ranged under those two psychological terms are not so much 
the mark of race as of phase. 2 To speak in less technical 
language we might say that to take an interest in things and 
rejoice in activity for its own sake is archaic, to be interested in 
ideas and act from ulterior motives is decadent. 

Concerning the progress of art in India we have abundant 
evidence, because much of the art is recorded in durable materials 
such as stone and bronze, and so has survived. Students also 
abound, for the study of art is a pleasant hobby. But art is 
not the only activity of man, not even the most important. 
We cannot hope successfully to diagnose the malady of decadence 
unless we study its symptoms as manifested in man's other 
activities. This is not easy because the materials are scanty 
and the students few. I will not venture, therefore, to study 
them in the vastness of India, but will draw chiefly on the 
familiar, if meagre, evidence that has come to my notice during 
my archaeological researches in Ceylon. 3 

Ceylon is linked to Northern India, from the first century B.C. 
to the sixth A.D. Then something happened. We do not 
know what ; but we find Ceylon switched off from Northern to 
Southern India. Its normal progress is arrested ; there is, as 

1 See my " Many-armed gods " in Ada Orientalia, vii (1929), 91. 

1 See his " Anthropology and Psychology," Journ. Roy.- Anthropological 
Inst., 1924, p. 13. 

* The evidence is scattered through my " Archaeological Summaries " in 
the Ceylon Journal of Science, section G, vols. i and ii. 


far as one can venture an opinion on an obscure period, a drop in 
artistic achievement ; then the ascent is renewed. The peak 
is reached after India is well advanced in decline ; the classical 
period lies in the ninth or tenth century. That shows that the 
phases are not quite as regular as they appear in Sir Flinders 
Petrie's book. No doubt there are strict laws, but their 
operations are disguised by disturbing factors. The disturbing 
factor in this case seems to be a wave from Dravidian India. 

As usual, archaizing tendencies appear with the beginning 
of the decline. They begin to show themselves in the tenth 
century. Types of sculpture are revived which had gone out 
of fashion in the fourth century. This archaizing appears in 
religion. The Buddha had been cremated and his remains 
deposited in topes, hemispherical structures, brick or stone 
versions of our own round barrow. The tope had thus become 
the chief Buddhist shrine. Up to the fourth century A.D. it 
was the centre of worship. Kings vied with each other who 
should build the largest, as the pyramid builders had tried to 
surpass one another, and the dimensions reached rivalled those 
of the pyramids. The maximum was reached in the fourth 
century. Then it dropped to small dimensions, and became an 
appendage to a monastery containing other shrines on an equal 
footing. In the twelfth century the colossal tope reappeared, 
and the largest ever built belongs to that century. It was a 
last flicker before the extinction. The colossal tope does not 
appear to have been attempted after the thirteenth century. 

We know from the Pali chronicle that the history of the 
tope reflects the history of doctrine. Ceylon was converted to 
Buddhism when it was still in that fairly pure form later known 
as the Little Vehicle. Ritual and mystical tendencies, however, 
soon spread from India to Ceylon under the name of the Great 
Vehicle, that form of Buddhism which still prevails from Tibet 
to Japan. By the fourth century it was disputing the ascendancy, 
and may have won it. 1 In the twelfth the Church was purged 
of heresy and Ceylon returned to the Little Vehicle in which it 
remains to the present day. 

The chronicle is concerned solely with pious benefactions 
and religious rivalries, and tells us nothing about such funda- 
mental things as population, food, finance. We have to piece 
together the evidence of ancient works to supply this blank. 

Since towns have come into existence they contain most of 
the history of civilization. It is the towns that make and mar 
it to a great extent. They grow and grow, at first promoting 
intellectual life and political organization, then passing the point 
of their greatest utility and upsetting the whole balance of society 
and of mind. The towns of Ceylon were built of mud and thatch 
1 S. Paranavitana, " Mahayanism in Ceylon," Ceylon Journal of Science, G, ii, 35. 

88 A. M. HOCART 

so that we cannot trace their growth on the ground. Their 
monasteries were built of brick and stone, when they were 
wealthy enough. Their numbers give us some idea of the wealth 
and population. In the eighth, ninth, and especially the tenth 
century they multiply rapidly. They blossom forth most just 
before the decadence. 

The irrigation system is even a better index. That part 
of Ceylon which took the lead down to the fourteenth century, 
the North and the South-East, receives scarcely any rain from 
May to October, and in consequence gets dried up. Such a 
country cannot maintain more than a scanty population without 
the aid of irrigation. Quite early, we do not know how early, 
streams were dammed to fill up in the rainy season and water 
the fields during the dry. Up to about 250 B.C. a small artificial 
lake 255 acres in extent was sufficient to supply the needs of 
Anuradhapura, the capital. Then another was added covering 
about 396 acres. By the second century A.D. a third was in 
existence with an area of two or three thousand acres. In the 
fifth century the original reservoirs had to be fed by a new 
one some 20 miles distant, covering 39,000 acres. These 
" tanks ", as they are called in Ceylon, not only supplied the 
city, but also irrigated the fields. They bear witness not only 
to the growth of the towns, but to the steady increase of the 
land under rice cultivation. Numerous other large irrigation 
works all over the country tell the same tale. Then comes a 
period of chaos ; the irrigation works are neglected, and at 
the same time there is a dearth of monastic buildings. 
Evidently the country is getting depopulated. In the twelfth 
century an effort is made to stem the ebb. Dams are repaired, 
and new ones made on a colossal scale, like everything at this 
time. The largest of all was made next to the new capital : 
it had a dam about 9 miles long. Ceylon thus bears out 
Sir Flinders' generalization that the greatest engineering feats 
come towards the end of the effective life of a nation, when art 
is getting exhausted. These efforts at reviving agriculture were 
followed by a worse relapse. The Sinhalese resumed their retreat 
southwards into the wet zone, where cultivation can dispense with 
great irrigation works. The dry zone was abandoned to the 
jungle, which still holds it against the attacks of the white man. 

Incidentally, I have illustrated a typical symptom of 
approaching decadence, megalomania. The craze for size 
appears in all ages : whenever anything comes into vogue each 
one tries to go one better than the other, until a limit is reached 
and interest decays with the power of doing better. This 
passion for size is especially virulent before final collapse of a 
people. The Communes of Northern Europe built their loftiest 
cathedrals on the eve of their extinction. The Roman Empire 


reached its greatest expanse under Trajan, eighty years before 
Gibbon begins his story of the decline. Athens was most brilliant 
and far-ruling when the Peloponesian war began. Ceylon was 
no exception. Small as the buildings of the tenth century may 
appear to us they were large for Ceylon and show an increase 
over the preceding centuries. Huge stones were often employed 
in their construction some 15 tons in weight. It is more in 
the extent of the monasteries than in the size of individual 
buildings that the striving after greatness is apparent. This 
striving is reflected in the language of the inscriptions. Down 
to the first century B.C. there are numerous inscriptions which 
run somewhat like this : " The cave of the Lord Tissa, son of 
the Lord Abhaya, is given to the church of the four quarters. 
By the third century it has become, " The great king, Malu 
tisa, caused to be built a sitting hall/ 1 and so on. In the tenth 
the style is, " The great king, Abhaya . . . lord by lineal descent 
from the great lords of the soil of the Island of Ceylon ; who 
promoted the religion, having comforted his people with showers 
of boundless all-embracing, gentle and pure qualities ..." and 
so on in interminable periods into one of which you could easily 
pack several of Dr. Johnson's. This grandiloquence masks 
decay. Anarchy follows, then the Indian summer of the reign 
of Parakrama Bahu the Great. That vigorous and unscrupulous 
monarch in the twelfth century united the distracted country 
and set himself to surpass all his predecessors. He built the 
largest tope, the largest temple, the largest palace, and the 
largest reservoir. His foreign policy was equally aspiring. He 
carried his arms into South India and even into Burma. 

All this splendour was hollow. The largest reservoir has not 
stood the test of time as well as some of the others, and it was 
made up of several older ones. The largest tope is mistaken 
for a hill by the unobservant visitor, whereas topes twelve hundred 
years earlier still retain their facing. The most ambitious 
temples of the twelfth century were largely built of brickbats 
taken from earlier monuments. Stone is sparely used, poorly 
cut, and often pilfered from the works of predecessors. We 
have here lighted upon another symptom of decadence : 
resources have not kept pace with ambitions ; to do things 
greatly it is necessary to do them cheaply. The additions 
made in the thirteenth century by Parakrama's successors are 
distinctly shoddy. 

The national finances were evidently as specious as the 
building. Only a few years after the great Parakrama's death, 
King Nissanka Malla announced in an inscription that the 
land " had been distressed by the inordinate exactions of former 
kings "* Heavy taxation has always been the penalty of 

1 Epigraphia Zcylanica, ii, 133. 

9 o A. M. HOCART 

decline. India suffered from it like the Roman Empire. The 
Moghuls took one-fifth of the produce of their subjects, nearly 
as much as our income-tax. 

Nissanka Malla in the inscription I have quoted claims to 
have remitted taxes for five years, and to have abolished the 
tax on the cultivation of clearings in the forest. All his 
inscriptions show a painful desire to capture the suffrages of the 
people by financial leniency. But the money had to come from 
somewhere, because the social services had to be kept going ; 
in fact Nissanka lays great stress upon them as a claim to the 
gratitude of his people. The copper coinage tells us how the 
problem was solved. Copper coins of the great Parakrama are not 
common. 1 Under Nissanka they begin to get common ; but 
the record belongs to one Sahasa Malla, whose output in two 
years about equals that of the great Parakrama and his other 
twelve successors in over fifty years. There is only one possible 
inference, and that is that the government dared not increase 
taxation and fell back on inflation. In spite of that changes of 
government were frequent, the average reign being little more 
than a year. Then came a king who reigned twenty years 
but of whom I have never found a coin. 

The social services, as I said, went on as usual under Nissanka. 
In his numerous and bombastic inscriptions he likes to dwell on 
the alms-houses he built, the grants he made, the exemptions 
he allowed to those in straitened circumstances, and the largesses 
he made, " pearls, precious stones, corals, and such other jewellery 
in abundance/' " He quenched the fire of indigence with 
plenteous showers of wealth consisting of kahavanu coins, copper, 
bell metal, gold, silver, pearls, clothes, and jewellery. He appointed 
ministers and other officials and provided them with livings. . . . 
He repaired the great tanks, channels, and embankments. And 
thinking that robbers commit robbery on account of a desire for 
wealth he gave them whatever they liked and in this way removed 
the fear of thieves. . . . He provided the members of the Church 
who led pure lives with the four requisites. . . . He promoted 
religion and science by providing suitable means of subsistence 
for those versed in the doctrine and in the branches of 

The dole had always existed in Ceylon, as everywhere else, 
because there always are people who cannot maintain themselves 
and others who won't. What is symptomatic of decline is its 
inordinate development. The inscriptions of a single king are 
not sufficient proof that this evil was chronic. We require 
statistical evidence, and this is hard to get, and we can only 

1 A copper coin inscribed Parakrama Bahu is fairly common, but Mr. H. W. 
Codrington has come to the conclusion that they belong, not to the first, but to 
the second king of that name, and he is undoubtedly right. 


hope that further researches will throw light on the matter. 
In the meantime we can note that the archaeological evidence 
points to a steady increase in alms-houses. Remains of them 
earlier than the ninth or tenth centuries are rare, just like the 
monasteries to which they are attached. It may be that before 
that time they were usually built of perishable materials ; but 
even so a change to stone indicates a greater expenditure under 
that head. It is only in these centuries that we know of huge 
stone canoes that were filled with rice for distribution. 
Inscriptions show also a great multiplication of grants to 
monasteries. Nissanka Malla went further in the direction of 
public largesses than any according to his own evidence. A new 
and significant feature, too, is his anxious catering for popular 
favour. We learn the reason from one of his inscriptions : 
the throne was not secure, and there was a party that wanted 
to set up another king not of royal caste. The constant changes 
of kings also bear witness to the unrest. 

Mendicancy has remained to the present day the blight of 
India and Ceylon. There are parts of London which now do 
not fall short of India in this respect, but in India it permeates 
the whole country. It means that a large part of the population 
has taken to parasitic habits because it is unable to subsist 
otherwise. India has never developed a system of administration 
comparable to that of Greece, Rome, and Modern Europe, and 
therefore an organized system of national relief could not 
develop. There Church and State are indistinguishable, and 
therefore relief takes the form of religious benefactions, and the 
monasteries are the centres of relief. 

Travellers in Ceylon have been impressed by the multitude 
of ancient monasteries around the ancient capitals, and they 
have commented on the rampant parasitism they imply. It is 
not quite fair, however, to regard these swarms of monks as 
consisting entirely of drones. A great many were doubtless 
nothing more ; but a great many took the place of our school- 
masters, professors, parsons, hospital staffs, and charitable 
organizations. But there is a limit to the number of such persons 
which society can usefully employ. Exceed that limit and the 
surplus differ from drones only in that they are busy. A country 
which had to maintain as many intellectuals as Ceylon had to 
in the tenth century is top-heavy. The excess of intellectuals 
is not only superfluous, but mischievous ; for men whose brains 
have been trained to activity, but have not been given a useful 
outlet, are sure to find one in pure destructiveness. Finally, 
the multiplication of intellectuals must result in the decline 
of intellectual achievement, for it is necessary to go deeper and 
deeper in order to recruit, and so the average is lowered, and those 
born to think are swamped by those for whom thinking is merely 

92 A. M. HOCART 

a claim to be exempted from the rough work of life. The latter 
history of Sinhalese literature is one of mechanical copying. 
The monastic order sank lower and lower, so that when it was 
reorganized in the eighteenth century, the king had to send to 
Burma and Siam in order to renew the apostolic succession. 

All this time the Tamils from India were pressing hard; 
but the common foe could not unite the Sinhalese except for a 
short time under Parakrama Bahu. After him the Sinhalese 
gradually withdrew southwards. Then the Portuguese seized 
their coasts. These invasions were the consequence, not the 
cause of their decline. The South Indians had been invading 
Ceylon since the first century B.C., but the battle swayed 
backwards and forwards till the eleventh century. It was not 
till then that the Sinhalese began to yield ground for good and 
all, and took refuge in the mountain fastnesses, the last resort 
of the weak. 

I have outlined the rise and decadence of India and Ceylon 
from the first century B.C., but the history of India does not 
begin then. What came before that ? Was India steadily 
rising from the time of our earliest records, the Vedas, about 
1000 B.C. ? Does the first century represent a continuation, 
not a beginning ? As we go backwards in time from the earliest 
art we meet with facts that are at first disconcerting. First, 
in the third century B.C. the most extensive empire that ever 
spread over India before the British, and empires are symptomatic 
of the end rather than of the beginning. Then in the sixth 
century we assist at the birth of a religion which is a character- 
istic product of decadence. Buddhism is pessimism : existence, 
it says, is evil, it means pain and sorrow ; escape from it lies 
only in extinction. Those are not the sentiments of a people 
with the future before them, but of a nation that has lived. 
Pessimists there always are in every age, but it is only in periods 
of decline that they find a ready ear with the majority. We are 
living in such a period, and so we are in a good position to under- 
stand Buddhism. The author of Ecclesiastes represents that 
phase among the Jews. This disgust with life would have been 
unintelligible to the early Greeks and Romans ; but it was a 
favourite theme of the Fathers of the Church. The only con- 
clusion possible is that in the sixth century B.C. India was in a 
state of decadence. 

Let us analyse the Buddhist doctrine to see if we can discover 
the cause of its pessimism. Contact, it says, causes sensation, 
sensation desire, and desire pain. It would seem then that the 
people to whom the Buddha addressed himself so successfully 
were suffering from an excess of desire ; for moderate desires 
are not painful, but pleasurable, if they can be satisfied. They 
must have wanted more than they could win or enjoy, and so 


they suffered. We are familiar with that state of mind in spoilt 
children, and in spoilt adults for that matter : they have their 
way so invariably that they fret more to be denied it, than they 
rejoice to have it. When life has been made too easy it is apt to 
become painful. The legend of the Buddha shows that the 
Indians had already then made this psychological discovery. 
It depicts him as living in luxury, never allowed to come into 
contact with the ugly side of life. He becomes satiated with 
pleasures, and over-sensitive to the unpleasant. The crisis 
comes one night after the usual pleasures : his wife and his 
dancing girls are asleep, and the sight fills him with disgust. 
He escapes from the palace, and wanders forth into solitude. At 
first he rushes to the other extreme, and almost starves himself 
to death. Finding no balm in extreme asceticism he returns 
to a middle way, a life of renunciation without severity. He 
suppresses all desire and retires from the world of senses into 
one of ideas. He seeks peace within. 

It matters little whether the legend is true or not. Fiction 
is often truer than history, for fiction tells us what the people 
feel, and evidently they felt that the need of their times was not 
the conqueror of empires, but the man, who having conquered 
the tyranny of desire, showed others the way to do the same. 

This situation recurs whenever man's success over his 
environment has been such that all his desires are satisfied, 
and he is obliged to create new ones. The pursuit of novelty 
for a time diverts his mind, but that fails sooner or later like 
all drugs. Desire becomes painful because it is so intense and 
can no longer be satisfied. Horace has described the flight 
from black care in one of his best known odes. It was about the 
same time that Poseidonius, a late Stoic, declared, like the 
Buddha, that " pain arose out of passion and desire ", l for at 
that time Rome was beginning to suffer the pains of decadence. 
A Bishop recently went deeper, I think, into the causes of our 
present troubles than all our economists, when he put the blame 
on our habit of putting our happiness too much in externals, 
and hoped the crisis would do us good by forcing us to discard 
the unessential to which we clung. A lady specialist in social 
study recently declared that " it was not so much organic 
diseases from which the nation was suffering, but from . . . 
all sorts of nervous complaints which meant a nerve-wracked 
population. Everywhere the tendency was to strive after a 
social condition which was just a little higher than the one in 
which we happened to be at the moment. We were striving 
after gods that were not worth striving for ". Men at the present 
day are merely restating in more modern, and sometimes more 
scientific terms, the discovery which had been made by the 
1 Ritter und Preller, Historia Philosophic GY&CCB, p. 436. 

94 A. M. HOCART 

Buddhists and contemporary sects some 2,400 years ago, and 
remade later by Stoics and Christians. The great development 
of mental therapy within the last few years shows that the 
same mental disease is forcing us to seek much the same kind 
of treatment. 

One curious effect of the disease is that whenever a patient 
finds, or thinks he has found, a remedy he must at once impart 
it, or even impose it. Buddhism sent out missionaries beyond 
the confines of India, even to Syria. Proselytism always tends 
to intolerance, and the history of Buddhist councils is not more 
edifying than that of Christian ones. Intolerance is not peculiar 
to an age of decadence ; what is peculiar is its recrudescence 
after an age of tolerance, for the classical age is usually one 
of intellectual emancipation. Decadence sets back the yoke. 

One result of this propagandist spirit is to accentuate that 
uniformity or standardization which seems to be the result of an 
abnormal growth of the population. Perhaps it is the natural 
reaction to a need for mechanizing everything in a society that 
has grown so big that the individual is lost in it, and the personal 
touch becomes impossible. Every one must think alike, because 
every one must act alike, and there are too many to discuss 
and compromise. All character is levelled out of Buddhist 
scriptures : it is not men that pass across their stage, not even 
types, but standardized machines devoid of feeling. There is 
no interest in the individual. 

Standardization goes hand in hand with centralization. The 
individual does not count : all authority is at the centre. 
Buddhism is contemporary with the extinction of the old 
principalities of the Sakyas, the Kolis, the Licchavis, by empires 
such as that of Kosala. These empires were in turn absorbed 
by the biggest of them all, that of Asoka, who has been called the 
Constantine of Buddhism. Some at least of these empires were 
ruled by upstarts despised by the old aristocracies which they 
destroyed. 1 

It would lead too far afield to make an exhaustive catalogue 
of all those characteristics that mark Buddhism as a reaction 
to decadent conditions. Only one more need be mentioned. 
No religion has ever carried pacifism to such extremes as 
Buddhism. Non-resistance is one of its key-notes. To take the 
life, even of an animal, is sinful, and this sin must be avoided 
at the cost of one's own life. 

If Buddhism is the product of a decadent age it must have 
been preceded by a classical period, and the classical by an archaic 
one. Our earliest records are the Vedas, about 1000 B.C. It is 
no longer possible to regard them, with the earlier Vedic scholars, 
as the spontaneous effusions of primitive man just awakening 

1 Jataka, iv, 146. 


to the beauties of the world and bursting into song like birds at a 
spring dawn. Mankind was already very old in 1000 B.C. ; 
and the Vedas had centuries of poetic technique and ritual 
behind them. The error of the discoverers of the Vedas does, 
however, bear witness to the freshness and manly vigour which 
marks those hymns and which contrasts with the weariness and 
soft prolixity of Buddhist writings. The moral contrast is 
equally remarkable. Buddhist hymns and prose subordinate 
everything to morality and idealism. Morality, in the narrow 
sense of being " good ", " saintly ", does not worry the Vedic 
singer : his dominant interest is increase of progeny, cattle, 
wealth, health, and security. He has no wish to proselytize, 
because that would mean sharing with others, even enemies, 
the secret of material prosperity. He is innocent of pacifism ; 
it is part of his religion to smite the heathen. 

The next stage is represented about 800 B.C. by a voluminous 
prose literature on the ritual. There is no longer the same freshness. 
Cold reasoning prevails. There is as yet, however, no sign of 
idealism ; the end is still purely practical : the ritual aims at 
nothing more than material prosperity. We hear much of evil, 
but it is not moral evil, not sin, but only the hostile powers 
that blight man and cattle, and abet his enemies. 

In the later ritual books a kind of mysticism begins to make 
its appearance. Much stress is laid upon knowledge as a 
substitute for ritual. This tendency grows. Asceticism comes 
more and more to the front. From an early time it was pre- 
scribed as a preparation for the sacraments, but by degrees it 
overspread the whole lives of religious men. As world weariness 
increased it became a favourite escape from the world. And thus 
we come down again to Buddhism. 

Thus between 1000 B.C. and the present day India has passed 
through two cycles of rise and decadence. There is nothing 
surprising in this. Minoan Greece declined, and then emerged 
again as the Greece we know. On the ruins of the Roman 
Empire a new civilization has been built. Sir Flinders Petrie 
thinks Egypt was revived several times. 

We can now understand what has seemed a paradox to 
students of Indian art. Buddhism is pessimistic : it is not for 
the happy ; it scorns the senses and seeks to escape from them. 
Yet early Buddhist art is happy and softly sensual : it delights 
in alluring female figures and in worldly pleasures. In the classical 
period the frescoes are still happy and sensual. The paradox 
is only apparent : early Buddhist art belongs to an entirely 
different phase from the original Buddhist gospel. The art has 
inherited the doctrines of the gospel, but the spirit has passed 
away. The bas-reliefs of Barhut and Sanchi stand in the same 
relation to the Buddhist canon as the medieval art of Europe 

96 A. M. HOCART 

to the New Testament and the Fathers. Primitive Buddhist 
artists, like the Italian and Flemish Primitives, took their 
subjects from the preceding decadence, but not their outlook. 
The pious legends were merely good stories to tell in pictures. 

Just as our Renaissance dropped Christian for Pagan 
subjects, so the Indian Renaissance, which began in the fourth 
century, harked back from Buddhist hagiology to the old Vedic 
gods. There was this difference, however, that we have only used 
the Pagan gods as a poetic fiction. The Vedic gods had never 
died out, and were revived in earnest. 

I have dwelt much on Buddhism because it reveals the 
nature of decadence better than anything else in Indian history, 
perhaps than in any history. The gospels may grapple with 
the same disease, but it is by way of exhortation : they offer 
no diagnosis. Buddhism is more methodical and comes nearer 
to our modern psychology, not in its conclusions, but in its 
manner of proceeding. It marks an important stage in the 
history of mental pathology. The Greek philosophers may 
have far surpassed the Indians in their analysis of mental 
processes, but India has made considerable contributions to the 
study of functional disorders, in a manner typically Indian, 
not from a purely speculative interest, as the Greeks would 
have done, but from practical motives, to remove suffering. 
One reason why the Indians have always been so interested in 
the disease is that they have suffered from it so acutely. For 
decadence is a functional disease of society made up of all the 
functional troubles of the individuals that compose it. 



The anthropological value of the skull has been recognized 
since Herodotus, who points for the first time, so far as known, 
to racial differences in the skull ; but more particularly since 
Peter Camper and Blumenbach, who definitely initiate cranio- 
logical studies and measurements for racial comparison. With 
the subsequent works of Soemmering, Morton, Anders Retzius, 
de Baer, Broca, Quatrefages and Hamy, Barnard Davis, Flower, 
Kollmann, Sergi, R. Virchow, Topinard, Schwalbe, and many 
others to mention only those who are already gone the study 
and measurements of the skull assumed such an importance and 
extent that they overshadowed all other research in anthropology. 
This state of affairs has been further strengthened, since 1856, 
through the extremely detailed and interesting studies on the 
crania of early man, and since the 'sixties by those on the head 
of the living. The methods of study and measurement grew in 
complexity ; the data were converted into " indices " and 
treated mathematically ; the man-made indices and the mis- 
understood mathematical results became gradually so many 
fetishes of classification ; the plasticity and changeability of 
parts as well as of the whole cranium were almost forgotten ; 
and the skull became enthroned as the paramount arbiter of 
matters racial. 

During this great skull-reign the whole of mankind was sub- 
divided by the rapidly petrifying indices ; ethnic derivations, 
however improbable otherwise, were handily determined by the 
same / enthusiastic evolutionists lost completely the sense of 
evolution ; and nature in general was made to conform to the 
mechanized new discipline. Publication after publication 
appeared analysing by a few indices of the skull the populations 
of different countries and their origins ; negroids were shown in 
Scandinavia, Cro-Magnons or Nordics wherever there was 
anything worth while ; the nineteenth century Eskimo were 
identified with a 12,000 (or so) B.C. Frenchman ; Australians 
and Melanesians appeared marvellously in America ; all the 
brachycephals were " mongoloids " and came from Central Asia ; 
and there was a general carnival of unconstrained determinations. 
The cure-all, the solve-it-all-and-be-done-with-hard-work a 
panacea so many have always been and are still seeking wherever 
hard endeavour is involved had been found at last for 

97 H 


But the exhilaration somehow could never reach above the 
half-hearted, for annoyingly there remained something sub- 
conscious, the subdued voice of which kept on warning against 
the all-sufficiency of the new acquisition. And an earnest, sober, 
irritating worker here and there, instead of following the crowd, 
stayed contrarily behind and now and then even issued a chilling 

Besides which there kept on cropping up pestering conditions. 
It thus came about that, no matter how " pure " the group of 
human and even other living beings, each of the cranial or head 
measurements and indices showed a very material range of 
variation. This variation was seen to amount to from over 
10 to 20 per cent of each individual measurement or index. 
Thus a series of skulls, if sufficiently large, even where there could 
be the least question of admixture as with the Old Egyptians, 
some of the American aborigines, the true negroes, and others 
would give cephalic, facial, and nasal measurements and indices 
that, regardlessly, transgressed on both the lower and the higher 
established subdivisions of these indices, which by rights belonged 
to other ethnic groups ; and once in so many specimens there 
would be a case where more than one of the exceptional conditions 
were united in one and the same head or cranium. Such cases 
were branded as " exceptional " or, even more commonly, came 
to be viewed with a deep shadow of doubt as to their legitimate 
descent ; yet they persisted in keeping within the " normal " 
curve of distribution of their series and to recur, under differing 
guises, when there was more material. 

Thus, in the end, evidence accumulated that a skull 
or a head, especially a skull or a head near one or the other 
extreme of the normal variation series, might be sufficiently 
unlike the mean of its kind to fall within another subdivision 
of the established classifications. In other words, a few members 
of even the most critically selected ethnic group, the standard 
skull or head of which was, for example, mesocephalic, would 
show on one side dolicho- and on the other subbrachy- or even 
brachycephaly, without there being in evidence any substantial facts 
that would justify their elimination. Moreover, this phenomenon 
was found to be not an exception but the invariable rule in all 
cases, both in man and other living beings, where the series of 
samples were large enough for the determination of somewhere 
near their full range of variation. 

This inevitably implied a new view of conditions : that of 
not only the presence of broad normal variability, but also of 
an absence of discontinuity of skull characters, within the human 
and, as was learned later, any given species, regardless of the 
number of its apparent " races " or segregations. 

It thus became plain that racial groups of human skulls or 


heads, or of any other parts, organs, or characters of the body, 
are never discontinued racial entities, but connect throughout 
the human groups in the extremes of their normal variation. Nor 
is this, it was found, a mere interdigitation, it is an actual 
connection. And this is a very consequential realization. 

However, the above is not all that has been learned, though 
there is, oddly, still but a very imperfect general consciousness 
of these realizations. 

The evidence of Early Man, and that of many phyla of 
animals and plants, has absolutely convinced every anthro- 
pologist of the fact of anthropo- and biogenesis, or, as commonly 
termed, organic evolution. This great recognition, reduced 
to its simplest expression, means that in the course of time, 
under the action of a multitude of natural agencies, every part 
of every organism, man included, has changed in a regressive 
or progressive manner. One of the most fundamental properties 
of all living matter is its plasticity. Organic plasticity means 
changeability or, as usually expressed, morphological adaptability 
under changing conditions. 

The remains of Early Man show that very great changes 
in the human skull and all its parts have taken place within 
the last five-, three-, and even less than one hundred thousand 
years ; and there is ample ground for the conviction that the 
human body in all its parts, including the skull, is still plastic, 
still adaptable, still mutable. Thus, Matiegka has shown that 
the skulls in the limited region of Mielnik, Bohemia, where 
there had been no immigration, have changed in form since the 
eleventh century ; von Luschan has indicated a similar change 
in Styria, and Sir Arthur Keith has pointed repeatedly 
to changes in the skull, the facial parts, and the teeth within 
historic times in England. Stature has been changing 
markedly within 150 years in the U.S.A. and is changing 
now in North- Western Europe, Japan, and in other countries. 
The masticatory apparatus, and with it the nose and the whole 
face, with the progress of civilization have everywhere undergone 
and are still undergoing important modifications. The American 
Indian under changed conditions of life has rapidly acquired 
obesity and changed in many cases so that he has become 
almost worthless for type study. There are remarkable changes 
progressing before our very eyes in the Eskimo. And the entire 
system of training and education of modern man is subconsciously 
based on and made possible only by his continued plasticity. 

All of which implies that the human head, skull and body 
are not immutable but are capable of sustained modification, 
and the evidence shows that they do change lastingly under 
effective conditions. Thus we come to the second fundamental 
property of the human cranium. The first was its extensive 


inherent variability, the second is that of its continued 
evolutionary modifiability. 

The third basic quality of the human skull is its temporary 
responsiveness to environmental conditions. Such temporary 
effects are those that are capable of altering an individual head 
or skull but are not propagated. 

By environmental conditions are understood all those factors 
that are not inherent in a person. These factors fall into three 
main categories, namely, the pathological, the functional, and 
the direct mechanical. These different factors are capable of 
causing an endless line of cranial alterations. 

The pathological changes in the brain-case were dealt with 
by Rudolf Virchow and many other authors, while those of the 
face have been shown especially by dental students. Those 
of the vault range from scarcely perceptible to monstrous. 
They have been and are now being commonly overlooked in 
anthropometry, in the less pronounced cases, by those who lack 
pathological training and due experience. For example, an 
otherwise excellent student has described a rickety scapho- 
cephalic human skull as normal ; and there is no telling how 
many more or less affected heads and skulls have come to be 
included in the different anthropological series that constitute 
the published anthropological materials. As to the lesser 
alterations in the facial parts, due to pathological conditions 
of the teeth and jaws, there is no larger series of measurements 
extant, either on the living or on the skeletal parts, that has not 
been more or less affected through such conditions. 

The possibilities of functional alterations in the skull cannot 
be questioned. The entire skull or head is, in fact, if we go deep 
enough, a more or less fixed result of such alterations. The brain- 
case enlarges and modifies with the growth of the brain. Its shape 
cannot but be affected by the mechanical pressure and stresses 
of the muscles attached to it recall the interesting experiments 
of Arthur Thomson in this connection. The orbits are doubtless 
altered directly or indirectly through functional causes, and this 
is even more true of the nose, as shown by Thomson and Buxton, 
as demonstrated by the differences in the nasal structures of 
the Eskimo in different parts of his territory, and as indicated 
by other evidence. And great alterations may be produced in 
the jaws and the whole face through either the over- or under- 
development of the functions of mastication. 

As to the mechanical deformations of the head and skull, 
their range is great, and many a specimen suffering from a milder 
defect of this nature has been included by the inexperienced 
among the " normal ". There are incidental deformations in 
life, above all those due to cradle pressure, as common in Germany 
and Central Europe, among some of the Asia Minor people, and 


in some of the American Indians. There are deformations post- 
mortem, by the pressure of the earth upon the softened skull. 
And there are the very numerous intentional deformations, some 
crania with which are known to have been taken for " normal " 
at one time or another and helped to sustain various conclusions. 

All of which is not to detract from the real value of the study 
of the skull or head, which is precious indeed to Anthropology, 
but to help to place this study in its proper perspective and scope ; 
to urge the necessity in every worker of proper preparation for 
such studies ; and to point out that the exercise of constant 
erudite and critical care is needed in such studies, and in the 
deductions drawn from the materials. 

The more or less empirical and mechanical craniology of the 
past is rapidly nearing its end. There should and will be, if 
this branch of science is to progress properly, no more cranio- 
logical instructions to " travellers ", no more entrusting of 
important anthropometric work to raw undergraduates, no more 
disguising of the rankness of procedure or inadequacy of numbers 
by petty mathematical reasoning. 

Modern craniology calls for broad professional preparation, 
for experience, constant care, critical sense, and a full conscious- 
ness of the limitations of the subject. These conditions must be 
realized if craniology is to be saved from falling into a very 
undeserved disregard or even disrepute. 



These lines are written to convey a tribute of affection and 
esteem to Professor Seligman . As a medium for my homage I appeal 
to his great interest in that far-away country, British New Guinea, 
in regard to the anthropology of which he is one of the foremost 
authorities. The object of this article is to lay down certain 
principles of primitive cult which are founded on observations 
made among one of the native tribes of British New Guinea. 

The extensive theoretical literature which exists regarding 
the origin and growth of religion is in the main devoted to throwing 
light upon the psychological aspects of the relation of man with 
a supposed preternatural world. We are confronted with a 
branch of research in which the human mind has exerted perhaps 
more ardent efforts to reach the true understanding of things 
than in any other field of learning. Ingenious theories have 
been created concerning the early forms of religious cult as 
represented by primitive peoples. 

The latest developments of modern anthropology, however, 
give good promise of succeeding in founding the history of 
religious evolution on a firmer basis than has hitherto been the 

Religion, in a wide, ethnological sense of the word is, I believe, 
regarded by all leading modern representatives of that science 
as universal throughout the human race. But we must remember 
that it is not long since men like Herbert Spencer and Lord 
Avebury considered themselves entitled to deny the universal 
existence of religious ideas. This change of opinion to a great 
extent depends on the fact that our present information regarding 
the mental and ritual life of many uncivilized peoples is much 
more thorough than it was a few decades ago. But apart from 
theories recently held regarding the non-existence of religion 
among the lowest known types of people, our actual knowledge 
of many so-called primitive races leaves but little doubt that 
religion among some of them is at a very rudimentary stage 
that it cannot have advanced far from the very beginnings of 
mythology and cult. 

Instead of contenting ourselves with speculative theories 
regarding the problems connected with the earliest aspects of 



religious development, would it be too audacious simply to 
establish, by careful investigation, which forms these various 
beginnings of religion assume in real life ? I am of opinion that 
we might find it possible to pursue a method of descriptive study 
regarding the manifestations of native mental life, based on 
similar principles to those applied to the study of native economic 
and industrial life. By ascertaining in full all we require to know 
regarding supernatural ideas and practices among individual 
tribes, and collecting a sufficient amount of material of this 
kind from all available sources, we ought to be able to obtain 
a descriptive account of all the actual data which would tend to 
make the history of religion an exact branch of study. An 
adequate series of monographic researches, establishing the 
varieties of religious thought and worship in the primitive stage, 
would in any case provide us with a reliable basis for comparative 
study without our having to resort to general theories and using 
individual instances more or less as illustrations only. A general 
theory can never claim to cover the whole scope of religious 
rites and customs because of its inability to take different stages 
of evolution into sufficient consideration, nor is it possible to 
explain a multitude of heterogeneous functions from one and 
the same point of view. 

A descriptive history of religion thus outlined would throw 
light upon many problems connected with the origin and early 
development of religious life. We need only mention the much 
discussed question regarding the character of the earliest super- 
natural beings believed in and worshipped, in other words the 
relation between ancestor-worship and nature-worship, further, 
the sentiments predominating in the attitude of the worshippers 
towards the worshipped, the origin of religious images, the 
beginnings of prayer and other elements of cult, etc. 

Of these various problems I must, on this occasion, restrict 
myself to a single one. My purpose is to set forth a few observa- 
tions regarding the beginnings of the offering. We will try to see 
what may be learned regarding the history of cult from the study 
of a people whose religious stage must be looked upon as very 
little developed. The reader will find it natural, too, that for 
this purpose, I choose an aboriginal people of whom I possess 
first-hand knowledge, the Kiwai Papuans, of British New Guinea, 
among whom I have spent two years studying their anthropology. 
I hardly need to point out that what I am going to say is only 
intended to serve as an illustration of the method just mentioned. 
In order to arrive at anything approaching actual results we should 
have to avail ourselves of more extensive material than we could 
here consider, extending over a great many different peoples. 

As is well known, there exist many divergent theories regarding 
the earliest forms of offering and the fundamental ideas expressing 


the intentions of the offerer. E. B. Tylor, acting as a pioneer 
in this field, is the creator of the hypothesis that sacrifice 
was originally a gift offered to supernatural beings to secure 
their favour and minimize their hostility. As this purpose 
gradually became transformed in the mind of the sacrificers, 
the dominant note became that of homage, which again passed 
into that of renunciation. In conformity with his theory of 
ancestor- worship as the sole source of religion, Herbert Spencer 
thought the origin of sacrifice was to be found in the custom of 
leaving food and drink at the graves of the dead. As the ancestral 
spirits rose to divine rank the refreshments placed for the dead 
developed into sacrifices. Much interest and appreciation were 
bestowed on Robertson Smith's theory, according to which all 
sacrifice was originally a sacramental communion between the 
worshipper and the worshipped, whether in the sense of a 
communal meal to which the gods were invited as guests, receiving 
their share in the food and drink, or of the possibly still older 
belief, that the divinity was incarnate in the sacrificed man or 
animal (the former a member of the totem clan, the latter a 
totem animal) and that by eating the flesh and blood of the victim 
the sacrificers renewed the bond with the supernatural being 
and became participants in his divine life. Offerings without 
communion, according to him, are a later religious product. 
The main features of Robertson Smith's theory have been 
professedly adopted by F. B. Jevons, Salomon Reinach, and 
others. E. Durkheim maintained that both the essential forms 
of evolved sacrifice the act of oblation and the act of com- 
munion are found in terminal form in the Australian Intichiuma 
rites. Sir James Frazer's theory is that primitive man, in order 
to avoid the anger of the spirits of Nature and to conciliate them, 
resorts to the same means which he employs towards human 
beings on whose goodwill he happens to depend : he addresses 
requests to them and he makes them presents. On the other 
hand, the assumptions on which the worship of the dead is 
founded are mainly that the dead retain their consciousness 
and personality and that they can powerfully influence the 
fortune of the living for good or evil : this is the key-stone of the 
propitiation or worship of the dead. According to Westermarck 
the idea that supernatural beings have human appetites and 
human wants led to the practice of sacrificial gifts being offered 
to them. If such offerings fail them they may even suffer want 
and become feeble and powerless. Thus in early religion the 
most common motive is undoubtedly a desire to avert evil. The 
practice of human sacrifice, according to this writer, is based on 
the idea of the substitution of a victim for other individuals 
whose lives are in danger, which in course of time led to the 
offering of animals instead of men. 


May I now bring before the reader my friends the Kiwai 
Papuans, asking them to let us know what they think and do 
when approaching a supernatural being by means of an offering ? 

First let me state the general character of the religious ideas 
entertained by the Kiwais. Among these natives we find none 
of the attributes of a more highly developed religious life ; thus 
they lack any conception of a supreme god. They have no 
systematized ideas as to a supernatural world in which everybody 
believes, and no priests. No public cult exists : no prayers are 
said or offerings made in which a larger or smaller group of the 
population participates. Individual worshippers will practise 
one and the same rite as long as it seems to be of any avail, 
then they will try some other form of appeal or magic. 

The Kiwais entertain very pronounced ideas regarding the 
continued existence of the soul after death, the appearance of 
the ghosts, and the abode of the dead. In addition, the natives 
believe in a vast number of mythical beings. Of some of these 
little is known beyond the name, but others exhibit a marked 
individuality. All are firmly believed in, and must receive every 
consideration when people come into contact with them in their 
various undertakings and occupations. In general no actual 
communication takes place between men and these beings, but 
some of them are in the habit of visiting one person or another in 
dreams and are remembered with occasional gifts of food. The 
various beings enter into a great number of folk-tales and myths. 
Among the Kiwais the initial period of religious development 
is exceedingly rich, comprehending the folk-lore stage of the 
conception of a supernatural world, whereas of cult and ritual 
only the very beginnings can be traced. 

In what manner are offerings made among the Kiwai 
Papuans ? 

Let us first see how they are practised in the case of the 
dead. A spirit does not always start on its way to the land of 
the dead at once, but often for some days haunts the vicinity 
of its former home. For a few nights after a death all the doors 
are kept carefully barred, and no one ventures out in the dark. 
Some food is regularly put by the ladder of the house for the 
spirit. Sometimes the people indoors will hear a whistle from 
outside or a tapping or scraping on the wall, by which the spirit 
signals its arrival and, awe-struck, they all begin to wail. They 
also throw out some food to the spirit, asking it to go away. 
If the spirit is not given anything, it will wander round the house 
until daybreak, looking for food. 

On the whole the natives stand in great dread -of the spirits 
of the dead, whoever the people may have been in their lifetime. 
Ghosts are known to carry away the souls of living people and 


also to cause illness, and must therefore be carefully kept away. 
In order to send a spirit away, some man will perform certain 
rites, asking the ghost to go to the land of the dead, " You devil 
(spirit) now ; you no come back this place ; what road belong you 
you go; woman (and) piccaninny belong you he stop house, 
that road you shut him ; me fellow look moon he light, sun he 
go up ; you go Adiri (the land of the dead) now all same sun he 
go down/' I am, here and in the following, using pidgin-English 
for translating native utterances, as it seems to answer to the 
native mode of expression better than ordinary English. 

Grave-offerings invariably accompany the burial of the dead. 
On the grave a small hut is erected, a few personal belongings 
of the deceased are hung up there, also gifts of food ; and, in 
addition, a fire is lighted at the foot of the grave for the benefit 
of the dead. These tributes are maintained for a longer or 
shorter period and are afterwards renewed on certain occasions, 
particularly at the time of the performance of certain of the 
great ceremonies, or the dead will manifest their displeasure to 
their survivors. 

How important it is not to neglect these duties is shown by 
certain incidents related in the traditions of the people. On 
the occasion of the great so-called Turtle-ceremony the Mawata 
tribe, as usual, attended to the graves of their dead. They cleared 
and decorated the ground, put down food, and finally poured out 
coconut milk on each grave, saying, " You look out turtle, give 
me fellow ; I give you plenty kaikai, make place nice/' The 
grave of one man only, named Bidja, was neglected by his kins- 
folk. Everybody speared many turtle except Bidja's clansmen, 
who did not get a single one. In the night his spirit appeared to 
them and reprimanded them for having slighted him. It was 
not his fault that they had not caught any turtle ; they should have 
looked after his grave properly. On arriving home the men went 
straight to Bidja's grave and performed all the ritual duties there. 
Their next harpooning expedition was very successful. After that 
they taught the young men what they had learnt, impressing upon 
them not to forget the graves during the turtle-fishing period. 

Simple as they are, similar gifts represent almost the only 
kinds of offering met with among the Kiwais of which a few 
more instances may be given. Once when spearing a dugong 
(Halicore australis) a Mawata man, Maiva, got entangled in the 
rope and was drowned. For some time afterwards the people 
did not dare to go out to the reefs. At last a few men went. 
From their platforms the harpooners saw in the moonlight the 
drowned man swimming towards them like a huge frog. Seaweed 
covered him, his head was very big, and behind him trailed the 
rope in which he had been entangled. They all put down their 
harpoons in terror. The ghost came near, passed by close to the 


platforms, and vanished on the other side. After the phantom 
a great shoal of dugong followed, but the men did not succeed 
in spearing any and decided to go back, being afraid of those 
dugong. Later on the people again wfent to the reef. This time 
they threw food into the water for the drowned man, and they 
speared many dugong. Thenceforward the harpooners always 
threw food for Maiva into the water and said, " All right, you 
bring dugong; you no come along me fellow; you go right up what 
place you belong. You no cut him rope, you no take him out 
Mior (harpoon-head). Kaikai belong you here, you take him." 
Nowadays no more offerings are made to Maiva, and the people 
no longer see him. Offerings of this kind do not seem ever to have 
been made regularly for any considerable length of time, but 
occasional presents offered to spirits are frequent. 

The spirits of people who have been drowned or killed by 
a crocodile or a snake, and also those of suicides, are greatly 
feared because they will try to lure friends to a like death. In 
order to lay the ghost of a man taken by a crocodile the people 
build a small hut, like that erected on a grave, at the place where 
the man met his death, and put food inside. They want the spirit 
to remain there and say to it, " You no come where people 
he stop ; you devil (spirit) now ; house belong you here ; you stop 
here." If 'this is not done, the ghost, who does not want to be 
alone, will fetch one of his friends to suffer a like fate. 

If a hunter has perished in the bush, the people always 
leave there some of the game killed by him. " Ghost belong 
him/' they will think, " you me (we) no savy, him he kaikai. 
Poor fellow, he been hard work ; no good (that) people take him 
pig altogether. Ghost belong him he look round, by and by got 
nothing, by and by hard up/' The same rule is followed with 
respect to harpooners lost at sea ; in fact, people do not dare 
to keep a dugong, etc., speared by anyone who has subsequently 
perished. But even apart from deaths occurring on hunting or 
harpooning trips, a little of their spoil is generally left for dead 
relatives : " No good I kaikai good kaikai ; I no savy poor 
mother father belong me I no savy devil (spirit) belong him 
he there alongside that time I spear/' 

If the people fear that somebody has been lost at sea, they 
try to find it out in the following way. Some food is tied to a 
string, which is fastened to a stick like a fishing-rod. One night 
some men go to the beach, walk a short distance into the water 
and dangle the food over the surface. One of them calls to the 
missing man and says, " Suppose you proper lose (lost) you take 
that kaikai/' The arm of somebody drowned will be seen reaching 
out of the water and snatching the food away. H the arm is 
covered with sea-weed, the people conclude that it belongs to 
some " long-time-devil ", but if it is quite smooth, they will know 


that the man they are looking for has really been drowned and that 
it is his arm. Should no one take the food, this is a proof 
that the man has escaped to some other place and may be expected 
to return when the wind becomes favourable. 

In a folk-tale a number of sisters in succession were secretly 
killed by a wicked man, until only one of them remained. Feeling 
uneasy about the fate of the others, she went to the grave of 
her parents, cleared away all the bushes, placed a great heap 
of food there, and said, " My mother, my father, I give you fellow 
good kaikai. You fellow come speak me good talk that time I 
sleep, what place all my sister he stop, where he go, what he do. 
Suppose you come speak me to-night, all right ; suppose you no 
come speak me, I dig him out head (skull) belong you two fellow, 
chuck him away along bush/' In the night the parents came to 
the girl in a dream and told her all about her sisters. 

In order to obtain advice from his dead parents a man will 
sometimes dig up their skulls from the grave, wash them clean, 
rub them with sweet-scented medicines, and sleep close to them 
(with one skull in each armpit, it seems). Not infrequently when 
doing so he will provide himself with a stick and threaten to 
break the skulls if the parents do not appear promptly. In one 
tale the parents excused themselves for being late by pleading 
their old age which prevented them from moving very quickly. 

As has been stated, a great multitude of spiritual beings 
inhabiting nature are found in the mythology of the Kiwais, 
and to some of them offerings are made of exactly the same 
description as those to the dead. 

Almost every conspicuous place in the landscape is thought 
to be the abode of some mythical being. In certain cases the 
existence of such local beings seems to be taken as a matter of 
course, although hardly anything can be told of them except 
tjhe name, which is generally that of the place with the word abera 
(father) or nogere (old man) affixed. Certain of these local spirits are 
akin to human beings, others are mythical animals, and occasionally 
we even meet with trees endowed with miraculous properties. 

At Haemuba, a point on the coast, lives a being named Tube. 
He is particularly associated with a certain Mawata man, teaching 
him in dreams the use of garden medicines, which knowledge the 
man imparts to other people. Sometimes Tube appears to him in 
his garden in the shape of a snake or iguana, but he knows who 
it is from signs which the animal makes with its head. Once he 
saw Tube in the bush looking like an iguana, and it had in its 
mouth a little branch of a tree, which was a medicine. He obtained 
this by gently patting the animal on its head. The first taro 
pulled out of the ground is shared by the man and Tube. 

Another being, Sivagu, is the " master " of Augaromuba, 


a point between Mawata and Mabudavane. He appears in the 
shape of a man, a snake, or a hawk. As far back as the people 
can remember, there has been a large hawk's nest in one of the 
trees which no one would destroy. By hovering over the canoes 
the bird shows the people the right course. Particularly when 
on a fighting expedition, the people carefully watch the move- 
ments of the hawk. If it swoops from the top of the tree towards 
the water and there wheels once, flapping its wings, the people 
had better return for they will be defeated. But if it floats 
smoothly in the air, this signifies that the way to victory is clear. 
Sivagu, too, imparts useful information to certain men in dreams, 
and sometimes to obtain it people go and sleep at Augaromuba. 
On arriving there a hunter will chew and spit out a certain 
medicine, asking Sivagu to help him in finding game, and on leaving 
the place he will put down a small piece of meat for the spirit. 

On Abaura Island underneath the ground there lives a being 
called Wiobadara. At night he has been seen in human shape, 
in the day as a snake. He pushes up the sand into hills, and 
sometimes he transforms the ground, so that the women cannot 
find the crab-holes. Then they put down food for Wiobadara, 
asking him to give them crabs. 

The Gimini sandbank formerly belonged to two brothers of 
Mawata, Gubo and Moiso, who have been regarded ever since 
as the guardians of it. When the Mawata people went to look for 
turtle-eggs there, Moiso's descendants used to put down for 
him food and two water-bottles (because he had two wives), 
and Gubo's people put down food and one water-bottle (he had 
one wife only). At the same time they asked the beings to show 
them turtle-eggs. 

On Marukara Island there used to live a being of the kind 
called mamagdrena. The island belonged to a Mawata man, Odai, 
and when he came there to look for turtle-eggs he used to pour 
some fresh water on the sand and ask the mamagdrena to help 
him. When Odai died, the people used to appeal to him as well 
as to the mamagdrena, when asking for turtle-eggs, and when doing 
so they poured out water and put down a little food. One night 
a man, when sleeping there alone, saw the mamagdrena moving 
about in its human form, and being afraid, he shot an arrow at 
it. The next morning he found the same arrow sticking through 
the body of a snake, and that was the mamagdrena. Since then 
it is very rarely that the people find turtle-eggs in Marukara. 
The being used to speak to certain people in dreams. 

Pamoa, living in the Oriomu River, resembles a man, but is 
akin to the water-beings called dbotibi. He once made friends 
with a man called Ivogu, who used to paddle his canoe up the 
river, shooting game. Ivogu always gave Pamoa a share in the 
spoil, and the latter made a tally of the bones by tying them to 


a rope. Ivogu's younger brother also used to hunt up the river, 
but he treated Pamoa badly. One day Ivogu, who had climbed 
a coconut tree, was attacked by an evil spirit, but Pamoa threw 
him the tally-rope, which was very long, and he climbed down 
by it. On a subsequent journey the younger brother was killed 
by the same evil being, for his tally-rope was too short, so Pamo 
could not save him. 

Three groups of water-beings called ndgimarkci, kibumarkdi, 
and usdrabi are associated by the Mawata people with the 
harpooning of dugong. They are appealed to by harpooners and 
let the people know beforehand how a harpooning expedition 
will succeed, give advice in dreams, and were formerly presented 
with offerings of dugong bones. 

A rather interesting group of sylvan beings, the dtengena, 
live in large trees, wells, or in the ground. They are particularly 
associated with agriculture and help the owners of the gardens 
in whose vicinity they live. They appear in the daytime as snakes, 
pigs, or wallabies, at night in human form. The owner of the 
garden will ask the etengena to look after the plantation and to 
pass his water there (from which the growth prospers) ; the being 
can also protect the man from being bitten by a snake or getting 
hurt when cutting down a tree. The tiengena gets a share in every 
first-fruit obtained from the garden. Sometimes the being 
becomes quite attached to the owner of the ground, and when 
the latter dies and the people are wailing in the village, the 
ttengena, too, can be heard crying in the bush. 

Many supernatural beings are considered to be particularly 
wild and dangerous, and to these the people do not make any 
offerings at all, as it is considered useless to try to appease them. 
One group of such beings, the origoruso, have obtained their name 
from their habit of eating everything raw. They have enormous 
claws and tusks and swallow their prey whole without chewing. 
Jhe ears are so immense that when sleeping at night the being 
uses the one to lie upon and the other for a covering. Another 
highly malignant being is the titumu, the spirit of a man who has 
been killed in a fight and whose head has been cut off. The blood 
which has spurted from his neck shines in the night like fire. 
Many people, mistaking this light for an ordinary fire, have walked 
right into the clutches of the monster. 

I have here given only a few examples of the offerings which 
the Kiwai Papuans present to some of the supernatural beings 
in which they believe. But I feel confident that whatever 
instances could be added would prove to be of exactly the same 
kind without throwing any fresh light upon the subject in hand. 

What conclusions can we draw as regards the early practice 
of making offerings, so far as the Kiwai Papuans are concerned ? 


All their offerings are typically gift-offerings, among which 
the grave-offerings, too, must be reckoned. The Kiwais on the 
whole have very vague notions regarding the character of the 
various spiritual powers. As far as they form an idea of these 
existences, they picture them according to their own conception 
of themselves and other men. As a matter of fact, where else 
would they find the prototype of beings endowed with spiritual 
life ? There is an intensely human note in their endeavours to 
make the beings favourably inclined towards themselves. No 
other means are employed than such as would be used in the case 
of an ordinary human fellow-creature. In order to win the good- 
will of a fellow-man they would approach him with some sort of 
gift, and let him know what they wanted of him ; exactly the 
same procedure is put into practice respecting those mysterious 
beings which are regarded as akin to man and at the same time 
different. Among themselves the people are in the habit of sharing 
a considerable part of their spoil and harvest, and in certain 
respects they include their supernatural associates in the dis- 
tribution of such gifts. Every offering, however, aims at some 
benefit to themselves, and even when it bears the aspect of an 
act of gratitude, we may assume that it purports to secure some 
boon in the future. So characteristically human is the attitude 
of the people towards the spirits that it sometimes takes the 
form of threatening, just as in intercourse between men. The 
purely human wants and appetites of the spirits are clearly 

In opposition to the theory of Robertson Smith regarding 
the earliest forms of offering, we cannot find among the Kiwais 
any trace of a sacramental communion between the worshippers 
and the worshipped, only an approach with the ordinary tokens 
of friendship. The idea of increasing the vitality of the people 
forms the object of one of their great ceremonies, but this aim 
is followed by means of powerful magical medicines, not by 
obtaining strength from any supernatural beings in the form of 
a communal sacrificial meal or otherwise. It cannot be lack of 
imagination either, which accounts for the non-existence of the 
more complicated forms of offering and sacrifice among the 
Kiwais, for these Papuans, like many other aboriginal peoples, 
fail least of all in creative imagination as is shown by the richness 
of their folk-lore and their ceremonial rites ; it must, therefore, 
be due simply to the undeveloped stage of their cult. We cannot 
but think that the more intricate descriptions of offering, such 
as sacramental, expiatory, vicarious, purificatory sacrifices, and 
others, are to be looked upon as attributes of a more advanced 
stage of religious evolution. 






SKETCH-MAP to illustrate the Journey of the Dead, p. 115. 

" Sea Folk." 
Old social organization, founded by Tagar, modified through introduction of 

a newer form of culture. 
Dolmen-Maki and monolith-Maki. 
Types of burial. 

Other beliefs concerning the dead. 
Three accounts of Journey of the Dead. 
Not death, but ritual, confers future life. 

VAO VERSION, p. 118 

Burial at sundown. Pig killed. 

Enters " Cave of the Dead ". Is opposed by Guardian Spirit called Le-hev- 

hev, but Tagar-Lawo intercedes. 

Proceeds on uneventful journey to Tsingon Bong-na-un. 
Lights beacon. Is ferried to Ambrim and mounts volcano. 
Nightly dance of the dead. Reception by them. Mal-kalaut. 
The dead dance all night and sleep all day. 


Burial at sundown. Pig killed. Wand placed in grave. Mourners sound 
the Departing Signal on the gongs. 

Ascends Mountain and eats fruit of Magic Tree. Walks round " Whistling- 
stone ". 

Walks through " Cave of the Dead ". Proceeds to Pan-womu and strikes 
canoe with wand. 

Goes to Bong-na-un. Meets Guardian Spirit called Le-saw-saw. 
'Lights beacon on small island and is ferried over on canoe of driftwood to 
" place of the ghosts " near Ambrim. 


Burial. Proceeds with wand and fowl to " Cave of the Dead ". 

Gnaws trunk of Magic Tree. 

Walks round " Whistling-stone ". 

Walks through Cave. 

Strikes river with wand, and the waters part. 

Encounters " Nose-devouring Stone ". 

Removes burial-mats at Pinalum. 

Arrives at Wenush (Bong-na-un). Meets Guardian Spirit who is a stone 
and a shark and associated with a crescent moon, pentacles, and 
a bird. 

Lights beacon. Ferryman named Shules paddles over to see who he is, and 
reports to Ambrim. Dead man's kinsmen ferry him over. 

Nightly dance of the Dead. Head and bones fall asunder at dawn. New- 
comer's head first falls off on seventh night. 

Dead man plants banana on Ambrim. 

Journey accomplished immediately after death. 



Account of two Atchin women who followed a dead man journeying from 
Vao to Ambrim. 


Comparative Table, p. 128. 

Analytical Table, p. 129. 

Older and newer forms of culture, p. 130. 

Features peculiar to Vao, p. 131 

Cave, and not volcano, once the dead man's goal. 

Guardian Spirit and Tagar-lawo. Sukwe and Tagaro. Raga version. 

Malo. Supwe. Home of dead in the Cave associated with dolmen-Maki. 

Wala and Atchin version. Cave here also once the final goal. 

Ambrim story an addition, only partially accepted on Vao. 

Clash between two beliefs. Ritual copyright. Only those new features 
are accepted which do not interfere with existing ritual or belief. 

Dead on Ambrim, beacon, ferryman, flotsam canoe, nightly dance of 

the dead. 
Features peculiar to Wala and Atchin, p. 135 

Transference of Guardian Spirit to Bong-na-un. Disappearance of Tagar- 

Petromorphic Beings. Association with monolith-Maki. 

Magic Wand. 

Heads of the dead fall off. Sitting interment. 

Seven-day probation as opposed to five-day probation on Vao. 


Mountain and Magic Tree. Associated with the Cave (?). 
Table showing conclusions suggested in regard to culture-level, p. 140. 
Newer and Older Cultures : Terms used Locally. 
Cave and Volcano in Eddystone. 
Early Layer of Belief. 

Possible Recent Renaissance of Malekulan Culture. 
Note on Sex of Guardian Spirit. 


It is proposed in this article to give an account of the Journey 
of the Dead as recorded from the three northernmost of the 
" Small Islands " situated off the north-east coast of Malekula, 
in the New Hebrides. Since the three versions differ in essential 
details, an attempt will then be made to analyse them into their 
component parts, and estimate in some measure how the stories 
came to be built up. 

It is first necessary, however, to give the briefest outline 
of the cultural context in which they are set. 

" Sea Folk " 

The Islands in question are Vao, Atchin, and Wala. These 
form part of a group, extending to Uripiv in the south, the natives 
of which give themselves the common title of Sea Folk (in Atchin 
mwere ridas) in contradistinction to the canoeless mainlanders 
of north-eastern Malekula. In spite of the fact that each island 
speaks a language peculiar to itself, they all share in the main 
a common culture with, however, considerable Jocal variation 
not only as between the respective islands, but even between 
the different villages on one island. 


Old social organization, founded by Tagar, modified through intro- 
duction of a newer form of culture 

It is probable that all these islands at one time shared a 
common organization similar to that still existing on Vao, which 
island is divided into three twin villages with patrilineal, patri- 
local descent and local exogamy. As in all the other islands of 
the group, there is a further asymmetrical division into two 
nameless " Sides ", with two twin- villages on one side of the 
island and one twin-village on the other. The twin-villages 
forming the smaller (western) side of Vao are Petehul and 
Toghvanu, each of which has a central village lodge, while 
Petehul is further subdivided into four Quarters, each split again 

Jtftf : 

. -^^rV 

Ife -~*' 

AM&MM f ^ 


Sketch-map illustrating the Journey of the Dead. Inset, the Northern New 
Hebrides, showing islands mentioned in discussion. 

into two great-families, each Quarter and great-family having 
its own private lodge. In Toghvanu this organization, said to 
have been introduced by Tagar (Banks Islands Tagaro, Poly- 
nesian Tangaloa) shows already signs of decay, since here there 
are but three Quarters instead of four. In Wala and Atchin 
(probably also in the eastern villages of Vao, though my informa- 
tion does not extend to these) it is now in ruins owing to the 
introduction of a newer form of culture necessitating the division of 
each village into ten as opposed to the former eight great-families. 
This newer form of culture had its local origin in two 
villages, now extinct, but situated formerly on the Malekulan 
mainland opposite the island of Wala, close to the best anchorage 


in all that portion of the coast. What stimulated its development 
is not yet known. Its influence, however, has been profound, and 
is still radiating up and down the coast. 

So far as the islands at present under consideration are con- 
cerned, the chief repository of this newer culture now is Wala, 
whence its various features are even now in process of spreading 
gradually northward, one by one, through the slow processes 
of ceremonial purchase. The main body of beliefs and practices 
has already been adopted by the south-eastern villages of Atchin, 
whence they are passing gradually to the north-western villages 
on that island. These in turn have passed on certain features 
to the eastern villages on Vao, those least affected on this island 
being the two western villages, Petehul and Toghvanu, which 
have been already mentioned. 

Dolmen-Maki and monolith-Maki 

The main feature of this newer culture is the enormous change 
and elaboration introduced into (a) the mortuary ritual ; (b) 
initiation ; and (c) the public degree-taking rite called Maki. 
This is a rite, based on mortuary, that is to say resurrection, 
ritual performed by alternate generations of males within the 
villages a4: intervals of roughly thirty years. Through the perform- 
ance of this rite each individual takes his place among the hierarchy 
of the living dead, and so acquires the power of life hereafter. 
Originally connected in all probability also with the propagation 
and well-being of the human race, this early meaning appears 
to be now lost in the elaboration of ritual, but it still remains 
essential to the welfare of each individual and to the position and 
even the existence of each village in the social order that it should 
be for ever re-enacted. 

In the older form of this rite, that still performed at Petehul, 
on Vao, the central material object was a single dolmen of con- 
siderable proportions at which each officiating member killed 
a tusked boar and changed his name. As a result, however, 
of the newer culture, on Wala, Atchin, and the eastern villages 
of Vao, ten shrines are now built, one by each of the ten great- 
families into which the village is divided, and the central feature 
of each shrine is a monolith coupled with a diminutive dolmen, 1 
with a wooden image placed immediately in front. Plain monolith 
and image combined represent the far-off ancestor of the lodge, 
while other, solitary monoliths, as well as natural coral blocks, 
are said to be the petrified remains of individual ancestors and 
culture heroes. 

The two forms of the rite I shall refer to as the dolmen-Maki, 

1 Cf. Dr. Perry's " dissolith ", first so named in his Megalithic Culture of 
Indonesia, 1918, p. 16. 


and the monolith-Maki, the former characteristic of the older 
and the latter of the newer form of culture. 

Types of burial 

There is no space here to enter into the details of this most 
elaborate rite, though the increased insistence on the monolith 
both on Wala and on Atchin will be seen to have a bearing on 
the subject of this article. Associated with the older dolmen- 
Maki culture we find the burial of old men (i.e. those who have 
performed the full Maki rite) in the squatting position, as is still 
the case on Vao. Associated with the newer monolith-Maki 
old men are buried in the extended position now in use on Wala 
and the south-eastern villages of Atchin, while a yet nobler 
form of burial on Wala and on the Malekulan mainland consists 
in inhumation in a sitting posture, together with the subsequent 
removal and special treatment of the head. 

Other beliefs concerning the dead 

All these features will be seen to have a close connection 
with the Journey of the Dead. Before describing this, however, 
it is as well to bear in mind that the usual beliefs concerning 
the power of the dead over the living to be found in other parts 
of Melanesia are also present here. The ghost lives also in or near 
the grave, where offerings are made, is present in his house and 
lodge, watches over the lives and ceremonial observances of his 
descendants, and accompanies them on sea-faring expeditions. 
It may also enter the body of a descendant, causing sickness as 
a punishment for some neglected duty ; in divining rites it may 
enter the body of the medium causing an epileptoid seizure, or else 
into a bamboo which raps out answers in reply to questions put 
to it. According to one set of beliefs rather loosely held on 
Atchin, the spirit also rises to the sky to join the supreme being 
Tahar (Vao Tagar), who is at once a man and sun and moon, 
and came in a canoe to found society and provide the necessaries 
of life. 

Three accounts of Journey of the Dead 

In all this medley of co-existent beliefs we shall, however, 
confine ourselves here to what is believed concerning the way 
the dead live their own lives, unhampered by the affairs of those 
they leave behind. 

According to this belief, the dead of all three islands are 
said to continue their existence on one of the volcanoes on 
Ambrim, a large island some 50 miles away, where they dance 
all night, and, according to the different accounts, either sleep 
or become disintegrated during the day. 


The three accounts deal mainly with events occurring on 
their journey thither down the coast of Malekula, from a 
promontory on which they are invisibly ferried over to their 
future home. These accounts were not mere isolated contributions, 
but form part of an intensive inquiry into the mortuary rites 
of all three islands which has not yet been published. My original 
intention was to tabulate and compare the results of all three 
inquiries on the spot, discuss discrepancies and fill up gaps where 
these occurred. This, however, proved impossible owing to lack 
of time and the accumulation of material, and my intention of 
returning to the field has not yet been fulfilled. 

It is due to this that of the Journey of the Dead I have at 
present but a single account from each of the three islands, and 
therefore cannot guarantee against omissions. This means that 
though these accounts may be relied upon as representing positive 
belief on the respective islands, negative evidence must be taken 
with caution except where it is expressly stated by the natives 
that a given belief held in one island is not held in another. 

Not death, but ritual, confers future life 

Although a man earns a future life by ritual observances 
during lifetime, and once on Ambrim apparently continues his 
existence without hindrance from those left behind, the successful 
accomplishment of his journey thither is entirely dependent on 
the ritual attendant on his burial. For were the boars not 
sacrificed, with whose ghosts he must appease the Spirits which 
oppose him, he could not get through. Nor, without the wand 
which in two versions is buried with him, could he part the 
rivers on his way. It is not death, but ritual which opens up 
the way to future life. The moment when the ghost sets out upon 
its way is not the moment when the body dies, but that at which 
it is committed to the ground with due observances. For this 
reason, while it is immaterial what time of day young men, who 
do not make this journey, are buried, the burial of old men of 
high degree occurs of necessity at sundown, when the nightly 
dance of all the previously dead begins on the volcano and the 
new ghost receives official welcome. 

With this brief introduction, we can now turn to the details 
of the three versions of the story. 


Burial at sundown. Pig killed 

As already stated, burial in the squatting position occurs 
at sundown. The body is arrayed in all the finery and insignia 


due to the dead man for the rank which he has taken in the Maki 
rites. Immediately before inhumation a communion feast is 
held in which a morsel of the food is placed actually in the mouth 
of the dead man. This is the first of many subsequent communion 
rites which do not concern us here. The body, wrapped in fine 
mats, is placed within the grave and a pig is killed for payment 
by the dead man to the Guardian Spirit. 

Enters " Cave of the Dead ". Is opposed by Guardian Spirit, 
called Le-hev-heV , but Tagar-lawo intercedes 

The dead man first makes his way to the long black-sand 
beach called Ghoramp (in Atchin, Orap) situated on the mainland 
between the islands of Atchin and Wala. Here he enters a cave 
called barang na ta-mat " Cave of the Dead ". As he goes in, his 
way is blocked by a Guardian Spirit called Le-hev-hev. It is not 
known whether this Spirit is a man or a woman. All that is known 
about its nature is that it is ' ' irresponsible and in all things defiant ' ' . 1 

As the ghost of the dead man tries to enter the cave 
Le-hev-hev pulls him back. But there is another Spirit, called 
Tagar-lawo, who takes the side of the new-comer and says to 
Le-hev-hev, " Leave him alone. Let him come and join all his 
friends over there " (indicating the inside of the cave). Le-hev-hev 
then leaves hold of the new ghost, who presents the Spirit with 
the ghost of the pig killed at burial. If he had not such a 
pig, Le-hev-hev would devour him (Le-hev-hev e ghani). The 
new-comer also pays a pig to Tagar-lawo 2 for having pleaded 
for him, and then goes inside into the cave, to " join his dead 
friends who are gathered there ". 

Proceeds on uneventful journey to Tsingon Bong-na-un 

He does not stay, however, but continues on his lonely way 
for 40 odd miles down the coast until he comes at sundown to 
the promontory called Tsingon Bong-na-un on the coast facing 
Ambrim. It is important here to note that in this version nothing 
happens to him on the way. It was expressly stated on Vao that 
the people on this island know only the barest outlines of the 
journey, and are ignorant of the far more detailed knowledge 
possessed by the peoples both of Atchin and of Wala. 

Lights beacon. Is ferried to Ambrim and mounts volcano 

It is, however, known that, arrived at Tsingon Bong-na-un, 
the dead man makes fire for a beacon to attract the attention of 

1 Thus, a recent historical figure who was forced by family honour to commit 
what would otherwise have been the awful crime of slaying his own sister's 
son was called Le-hev-hev. 

2 In my account of the mortuary rites, no mention is made of the killing of 
a second pig for payment to Tagar-lawo. This is probably a case of omission. 


the ghostly ferryman on Ambrim, and also breaks off a piece of 
seaweed called ro-go-rombol, and beckons with it. At this the 
ferryman, named Lingi, sets out from Ambrim in his ghost's 
canoe. Such ghostly craft are not canoes in anything but name, 
but simply any kind of flotsam floating on the water. The name 
of this canoe was first given me as wuwun " banana-skin ", but 
later it appeared that any piece of banyan bark or other minute 
object would serve the ghostly purpose just as well. Lingi, the 
name given to the ferryman, is a descriptive word, used in 
ordinary conversation as a verb meaning to take or to conduct, 
particularly in a canoe. This ferryman now paddles over in his 
flotsam craft and takes the new-comer back with him to Ambrim, 
where he is escorted up to the big volcano called Bot-gharambi 
" Source (base or origin) of the fire ". 

Nightly dance of the dead. Reception by them. Mal-kalaut 

The crossing takes no time at all, for it is still dusk when he 
arrives, just as the nightly dance of all the dead begins. The 
new-comer is placed in their midst and all the others dance around 
him till a famous ghost named Mal-kalaut x calls out " Lame ", 
the customary way in which the leader ends a dance in actual 
life. Then all the others answer " Lause ", and the dance is over. 

The dance is repeated throughout the night by the dead of 
all the villages of Vao in turn, in the rotation prescribed for 
ceremonial occasions during life, and, as in life, these are succeeded 
by those from the six Atchin villages, and, more vaguely, by those 
from the remoter islands of the group. 

The dead dance all night and sleep all day 

Nothing more seems to be known on Vao about the life led 
by the dead, excepting that they dance all night and sleep all 
day. The Wala story, to be told below, that the dead dance as 
skeletons and that their bones fall asunder and their heads 
fall off at dawn is vehemently denied. 


This version stops short at the arrival of the dead man in 
the " place of ghosts ", near Ambrim, and gives no account of his 
reception there. It was obtained in the south-eastern village 
of Ruruar, where extended burial is the rule. 

1 Mal-kalaut was a man of La-mbarang, one of the four Quarters of Petehul, 
and is famous as the inventor of the use of human bones as arrow-tips. He is 
possibly to be identified with Navagaru-kalat, the founder of the Quarter and 
introducer of warfare. 


Burial at sundown. Pig killed. Wand placed in grave. Mourners 
sound the departing signal on the gongs 

Much more is known on Atchin than on Vao about the details 
of the dead man's journey. This is reflected in the mortuary 
rites. As on Vao, the body is arrayed with all the finery and 
insignia due to the dead man for the degree which he has taken 
in the Maki rite. A first communion rite is held (though I have 
no record of the dead man actually being fed as is the case on 
Vao) immediately before its burial, wrapped in fine mats, at 
sundown. A pig is killed for presentation by the dead man to 
the Guardian Spirit, here called Le-saw-saw, whose position in 
this story will be seen to be no longer in the cave, but on the 
promontory facing Ambrim. With the body in the grave is also 
placed a cane which in the Wala version will be seen to be a wand, 
cut to the length of the dead man's body, with which, in that 
version, he parts the waters of rivers encountered on his way. 

The mourners, among other rites which do not concern us 
here, now sound a special signal on the gongs, representing the 
footsteps of the dead man as he walks away. This signal is 
unknown on Vao. Only the mother-gong l is sounded (the rest 
of the gong- orchestra remaining silent) with a series of separate 
beats, at first loud and slowly, then faster and faster and ever 
more softly as the footsteps recede, till towards the end the beats 
are almost inaudible. Finally, after a long pause, one last booming 
blow represents his arrival at the home of the dead. This is the 
only signal known to me in which the mother-gong is used alone. 
It is impressive in its simplicity, and is called e tu-tu-tu-loni e 
wiel (the syllable tu being repeated ad lib.}, meaning, " It 
accompanies him as he goes." 

Ascends Mountain and eats fruit of Magic Tree. Walks round 
" Whistling-stone " 

Thus speeded, the dead man first ascends a mountain on the 
mainland, the name of which is Tawo-leter-rum-rum, a feature 
absent from the other accounts. Here he climbs a tree called 
wi-n ( men-men, and eats the fruit. He then goes down to the shore, 
to a stone called ni-wet wen-wen " whistling-stone ", which he 
walks round, drawing in his breath with a whistling sound. 

Walks through " Cave of the Dead ". Proceeds to Pan-womu 
and strikes canoe with wand 

Then he walks through a cave called pwereng ta-mats " Cave 
of the Dead ". No Guardian Spirit, however, meets him here, 

1 The mother-gong is the leader of a gong-orchestra consisting, in addition, 
of at least two further pairs of large upright slit-gongs and numerous portable 
horizontally-played gonglets. 


nor is there any gathering of the former dead. So he walks out 
on to the black-sand beach called Orap, going on down the coast 
till he comes to a place called Pan-womu (Pangkumu on the 
Admiralty Chart), where there is a village of living people. As 
he passes along the beach in front of the village the dead man 
strikes one of their canoes with his wand, and the people, hearing 
it, say, " A man of Atchin (to-so) has died/ 1 1 

Goes to Bong-na-un. Meets Guardian Spirit called Le-saw-saw 

Then he proceeds down the coast till he comes to Bong-na-un, 
the promontory facing Ambrim, where he meets the Guardian 
Spirit, here called Le-saw-saw, 2 and, presenting her with the pig, 
is allowed to proceed on to the white-sand beach. 

Lights beacon on small island and is ferried over on canoe of drift- 
wood to "place of the ghosts", near Ambrim 

In front of this beach is a small island called Noror sin ta- 
mats, and the dead man wades over to it and lights a beacon 
with sticks of the rapol 3 tree in order to attract the attention 
of the ghosts (there is no mention of a ferryman). These then 
come over in canoes, which are not real canoes, but pieces of 
driftwood Called ulu nuamp, and take him with them to a place 
near Ambrim called ngambu sin ta-mats " place of ghosts ", 
to which the dead are said to go. 

Burial. Proceeds with wand and fowl to the ll Cave of the Dead " 

Men of high degree in Wala are wrapped in fine mats and 
buried either sitting or extended. In either case they are arrayed 
previously, as on Vao and Atchin, with the insignia due to the 
degree they have attained in Maki ritual. I have no record 
of the dead man actually being fed, though many communion 
feasts are held. 

1 There is no mention in this version of this wand being used to part the 
waters, as in the Wala account, but this is clearly a case of omission. 

2 In the mythology of Atchin, Le-saw-saw is definitely represented as a 
woman, the mother of ten petromorphic brothers closely associated with the 
creator Tahar. These brothers are now represented by ten natural coral blocks 
on the coast of Atchin, while Le-saw-saw herself and her mother, Le-rapol, are 
present in two humanly-erected monoliths by the wayside leading down to the 
ten brothers. 

8 In the Vao version we are not told with what wood the dead man lights his 
beacon, but are informed that he " also breaks off a piece of seaweed called 
ro-go-rombol, and beckons with it ". Rombol is the Vao equivalent of the Atchin 
rapol. Here, then, we have the same word used to designate two quite different 
materials, but with the common object of attracting the attention of the ferry- 
man. Clearly it is of ritual and not material significance. What this signifies 
I do not know, but it is interesting to note that the mother of Le-saw-saw is 
also called Le-rapol. 


The time of burial was not recorded. As in At chin, a cane 
(ne-mairi), here called by the special name ne-row, translated 
" measuring-stick ", is cut to the exact length of the dead man's 
body and placed beside him in the grave. This will be seen to be 
a wand with which he parts the waters of the rivers encountered 
on his way. At the same time, a fowl is killed. This is sub- 
sequently eaten by the four men who buried him. But it is 
its ghostly part that matters, for the dead man now takes the 
wand and, slinging this over his shoulder with the ghost-fowl 
hanging from the hinder end, makes his way on foot to the " Cave 
of the Dead " (pwereng sin temets) on the beach at Orap. 

Gnaws the trunk of magic tree 

Outside the Cave is growing a fruit tree of the kind called 
navi, 1 which here goes by the special name of nu-wi men-men, 
and the first act of the dead man on arrival there is to gnaw the 
trunk of this tree with his mouth. 2 Somehow the mourners at 
the graveside know when he has done this for it occurs 
immediately after burial and now they feel relieved, cease 
weeping, and laugh, saying, " He has gone right away now, for 
he has gnawed the nu-wi men-men." 

Walks round " Whistling-stone " 

Outside the cave there is also a stone, called ni-wet wen-wen 
" the whistling-stone ". Having gnawed the tree, the dead man 
now shoulders the wand with the fowl slung on to the end of it, 3 
and walks twice round the stone, whistling softly. 

Walks through Cave 

The dead man now enters the cave. No Guardian Spirit 
bars his way ; nor have I any record here of meeting with the 
former dead. He walks right through the cave and, coming 
out at the other end, proceeds southward along the black-sand 
beach of Orap. 

Strikes river with wand, and the waters part 

Half-way down the beach there is a river. 4 When the dead 
man comes to it he strikes it with his wand and the waters 

1 This appears to be the same as the na-avri tree in the South-West Bay 
story of the " forbidden fruit " (J. W. Layard, " Degree-taking rites in South- 
West Bay, Malekula," JRAI., 1928, Iviii, 216). The fruit of this tree is round 
and red, like a small apple. Babies whose mothers have no milk are reared on it. 

2 In the Atchin story he eats the fruit. 

3 This mode of carrying an object, slung on to a stick placed over the shoulders, 
which is so familiar to ourselves, is one which as a matter of fact is never employed 
by these natives in real life. The position seemed so peculiar to my informant 
that he drew a special picture of it for me in the sand. 

4 This river is shown on the Admiralty Chart. 


part, retreating on either side to let him pass through and closing 
up again behind him when he has gone. 

Encounters " Nose-devouring Stone " 

He continues southward until, at the southern end of the 
beach, he comes to a place called Wetu " Stone ", where there is 
a solitary upright stone called ni-wet or gnush " Nose-devouring 
Stone". This stands alone in the sea, and is a te-mets (ghost 
of a dead man). There is a story, related below, of a Vao man 
whose ghost was followed on its journey by two living At chin 
women, who saw this Stone rise up and hit the nose of the dead 
man with its finger, not in order to break it, but to make it 
flat. It is for this reason that the dead man now quickly presents 
the Stone with the ghost of the fowl which he has been carrying 
with him, in order to save his nose from suffering a like calamity. 
If he delayed in presenting it, his nose would be flattened. If 
he had no fowl to give at all the Stone would eat him. 1 

Removes burial mats at Pinalum 

The exact route followed now is not known, the next fixed 
point being the promontory of Pinalum, where he takes off the 
mats in which he was wrapped at burial. The people of this place 
frequently find the tassels of these mats lying about and say, 
" A dead man passed by last night/' It is only the tassels, 
tsum weren bwen " tassels of the mats ", that are found, and never 
the plaited part, and the reference may simply be to some marine 
or coastal growth. 

Arrives at Wenush (Bong-na-un). Meets Guardian Spirit who 

is a stone and a shark and associated with a crescent moon, 

pentacles, and a bird 

Next, he comes to a place called Wenush, close to a 
promontory called Gunsin te-mets " Dead Man's Nose ". 2 This 
is the Bong-na-un of the other versions. Here he meets a petro- 
morphic Spirit not mentioned to me in the course of this narrative, 
but of which I learnt from the accounts of mortuary ritual. 
This Spirit dwells in a stone standing in the sea. This stone is 
also said to be a shark (an attribute of petromorphic heroes not 
unknown in North-Eastern Malekula), and on it is perched a bird 
which in some way attracts the passing ghost. If the dead man 

1 This Stone is mentioned only in this version, and is the only object besides 
the Guardian Spirit to which any kind of payment is made. From its position 
in the middle of the journey and from the fact that only a fowl, and not a pig, 
is paid to it, its importance would seem to be subsidiary to that of the Guardian 
Spirit. The undesirability of the nose being flattened would appear to indicate 
the fact that prominent noses were characteristic of those responsible for the 
introduction of this portion of the story. 

2 For comment on this name, see final paragraph of note 1, page 125. 


comes upon this stone he is devoured by it and drowned. This 
calamity would doubtless, as in the other versions, be averted 
by payment of a pig, for the dead man does in fact attain his 
destination. Unfortunately, the name of this Spirit was not 
given, but there is no doubt from its position in the story that 
it is Le-saw-saw, the Guardian Spirit, of the Atchin version. 
In mortuary ritual this Spirit is represented by a giant mask 
called sam-sam or sambe-sambe (in Atchin sap-sap), dialectical 
variants, without the feminine prefix, of the word Le-saw-saw. 1 

Lights beacon. Ferryman named Shules paddles over to see who he 
is, and reports to Ambrim. Dead man's kinsmen ferry him over 

At Wenush, where the dead man has now arrived, there is 
a village of living people. Here he steals a brand from one of 
their fires when they are not looking, and with it lights a beacon 
on the reef. Shules, 2 the ferryman on Ambrim, sees the fire and 
paddles over in his canoe to see from what place the dead man 
hails. He does not take him over, but returns alone to Ambrim 
to tell the former members of the dead man's village (? family) 
that one of their number is waiting on the other side. Then they 
all go over in their flotsam canoes, and take him back with them 
to the land of the dead. 

Nightly dance of the Dead. Head and bones fall asunder at dawn. 
New-comer's head first falls off on seventh night 

On Ambrim the dead dance every night and all night long 
till the appearance of the Morning Star (ne-mutso naterin), when 

1 On the eve of the Hundredth Day after death, the day on which the mortuary 
officials cease their vigil in the dead man's lodge, and they and certain other 
relatives break their fast and bring their mourning to an end, this giant mask, 
about 20 feet in height, is publicly displayed and shot at by the men, while the 
assembled women weep. This portion of the rite occurs at sundown, presumably 
in memory of the hour of the dead man's trial. The mask consists of a human 
face geometrically designed, surmounted by a tall, narrow, tapering super- 
structure on which are represented a conventionalized shark, a bird, crescent 
moon, three pentacles (symbols which occur elsewhere in Malekulan ritual), 
and other indecipherable designs. Similar giant masks, called by the same 
name and also referred to definitely as " ghosts " (an indication that the Being 
represented is considered as having once been alive), are similarly displayed and 
shot at on the Hundredth Day after the great Maki sacrifice, and on the Thirtieth 
Day of initiation, when the new initiates issue from seclusion after their ritual 
death in the initiation lodge, sure indication of the mortuary origin of both 
these rites. All three displays form part of the innovations brought in by 
the newer culture, and do not occur on Vao. 

From the name of the promontory, " Dead Man's Nose," on which this 
petromorphic Spirit stands, it might be thought that it is but another 
version of the Nose-devouring Stone already met with. This may, of 
course, be so, but does not follow from the name, since the word Gunsin " Nose " 
is used for " promontory " in Malekula in much the same way as we use our 
word " Ness ". 

2 This name may be connected with the Atchin word Shul-shulen, used to 
designate the feast of communion with the dead. 


their heads fall off and their bones fall asunder till they join 
together again the following evening. The newly-arrived ghost 
dances with them, but his head does not fall off till the seventh 
night after his arrival, which is also supposed to be the night 
when the body finally rots in the grave, and is that on which 
those at home blacken their faces and begin their fast. 

Dead man plants banana on Ambrim 

I have an isolated note that the dead man plants a banana 
in the land of the dead on Ambrim, but under what circumstance 
I do not know. 

Journey accomplished immediately after death 

The whole journey is accomplished almost in a flash, since 
the spirit lights the beacon as a signal to the ferryman almost 
immediately after burial. 


Account of two Atchin women who followed a dead man journeying 
from Vao to Ambrim 

A story is told on Wala explaining how it is that the facts 
about the journey of the dead and the life of ghosts are known. 
It is interesting that the ghost which was followed should be 
that of a man from Vao, where less is known concerning these 
things than in any of the other Small Islands. The natives of 
each island, however, are convinced that their own version of 
the tale is true for all the other islands in the group. 

An old man on Vao died, was adorned as usual for burial 
with his arm badges, fowl's feathers, and other insignia, and set 
out on his journey to Ambrim. 

When he came to a place called Woremet, he was seen by 
two Atchin women, who were so taken by his finery that they 
wished to marry him. So they followed him to the " Cave of the 
Dead ", where they saw him gnawing the navi tree. And they 
followed through the cave, and on to where he struck the waters 
of the river with his wand, and passed through. And then they 
came to Wetu, where the dead man delayed in presenting his 
fowl, and the stone rose up and with its finger struck the dead 
man's nose so as to make it flat. Then one of the women said to 
the other, " Now we see that this man is no good. He is no man 
but a ghost." But they followed to Pinalum, where the dead man 
took off the mats in which he was wrapped. Then they came to 
the place called Gunsin temets, and all three lit fires on the reef. 


Shules, the ferryman, saw the fires and paddled over. And 
when he saw that it was a Vao man, he paddled back to Ambrim 
and told all the dead from Vao to come over and fetch the new- 
comer. This they did, and the two Atchin women went with 
them to Ambrim. When they arrived there, one of the women 
was frightened, and said to the other, "I've begged you all the 
time to go back, but you would not, and now you really do see 
that this is not a man, but a ghost ; and here we are among 
nothing but the dead/ 1 

And they stayed there seven nights. And every evening, 
when the crickets (bong-le-muisi) began to sing they saw the 
bones of the dead join together and become alive, and they 
watched them dance till their heads fell off at the rising of the 
morning star. And at dawn after the seventh night the head 
of the man they had accompanied fell off also. 

But now the unusual happened. For the Atchin women must 
return home, but could not find their way alone. So this man 
became alive, and said, " I will take you back to Atchin. 1 ' And 
he still had his wand. So, having ferried them over to Gunsin 
temets, he walked northward with them along the coast, and 
whenever they came to a river he struck the waters with 
his wand, so that they parted and the three walked through 
on dry ground. And he went with them till they came 
to the Cave of the Dead, where he left them, saying " ko 
reldrel e matur, ko reldrel e main " l and himself returned to 

The two women returned alone to Atchin, but straightway 
died. But the Atchin people brought them back to life by kneeling 
on their chests and suddenly releasing the pressure, so that 
the breath came back into their bodies. This method of artificial 
respiration is called nm wushi luani. 

When they came back to life they related all that they had 
seen. And that is how it is known that the dead go to Ambrim 
and that after seven days their heads fall off, and why care is 
taken to kill a fowl at death and to place the wand with the 
body in the grave. 2 

1 The translation of this is doubtful. It may mean " he dances sleeping, 
he dances waking ", or possibly, " he dances from the time of lying down to 
sleep to the time of rising " ; the use of the word ntairi may contain a punning 
reference to the cane from which the wand is made. 

* I recorded the beginning of another tale concerning a man named Burial, 
of Lawor, one of the extinct mainland villages from which the newer culture 
emanated, who did not believe in the story of the Guardian Spirit, saying : 
" Even if it is true that Le-saw-saw stands in the way, I won't present her with 
a pig, but will go down to the sea by another road, and avoid her." So when 
he died, he took with him thirty pigs, and went by another way to the sea, and 
when he came to the beach he waded across to the island and lit a fire of rapol 
wood. Unfortunately at this point my informant was interrupted, and I never 
heard the sequel. 




Let us now attempt to analyse the story, beginning with 
a comparative table of the three versions. 

Comparative Table 




Takes pig. 

Takes (wand and) 

Takes wand and (pig 
and) fowl. 


Ascends mountain 

called Tawo-leter- 


Climbs tree called 

wi-ri men-men and 

eats fruit. 

Gn t nk f t 

called nu-wi-men- 


Walks round Whist- 

Walks twice round 

Enters Cave of the 
Dead. Meets Le- 
hev-hev and Ta- 

ling-stone (ni-wet 
men-men) draw- 
ing in breath with 
whistling sound. 
Walks through Cave 
of the Dead. 

(ni-wet men - men) 
whistling softly. 

Walks through Cave 
of the Dead. 

gar-lawo. Gives 
each a pig. 

Parts waters of river 

with wand. 

Encounters Nose- 

devouring Stone. 
Presents fowl. 


Takes off burial mats. 


Strikes canoe with 



Micets I. e~saw~savu 

(According? to mor- 

Presents pig. 

tuary ritual) meets 
Stone Being as- 
sociated with shark 

and hawk. 

Crosses to small 
island called No- 

Arrives at place called 
Wenush, close to 

ror sin ta-mats. 

promontory called 
Gunsin Te-mets. 

Lights beacon and 
beckons with sea- 
weed called ro-go- 

Lights beacon with 
sticks of rapol 

Lights beacon on reef 
with brand stolen 
from living people. 

Ferry and 

Ferried over by man 
called Lingi in 
canoe of banana- 

Ferried over on 
piece of driftwood. 

Ferryman named 
Shules comes to see 
who he is, and 

skin (wuwun). 

fetcfhes his dead 
kinsmen who ferry 
him over. 



Land of the 

Ambrim ; volcano 
called Bot-gha- 

' Place of ghosts ' 
near Ambrim. 




Arrives at dusk as 
nightly dance of 
the dead begins. 

Is placed in the 
middle, while the 
dead dance round 

Dance led by ghost 
named Mal-kal- 

(No further informa- 
tion from Atchin.) 

The Dead 
dance all 

The Dead dance all 
night and sleep 
all day. 

The Dead dance by 
villages on suc- 
cessive nights as 
during life. 

The Dead dance all 
night till rising of 
morning star. 

Heads fall 
off at 



(Belief in falling off 
of heads vehe- 
mently denied.) 

Heads fall off at dawn 
and bones f al 1 
asunder, till joined 
together the follow- 
ing evening. 

Newly arrived spirit 
dances with them, 
but head does not 
fall off till seventh 

These facts may be analysed as follows : 
Analysis of the Preceding Table 






Cave of the Dead. 

Ghosts of the pre- 
viously departed 
dead within the 

Guardian Spirit 

called Le-hev-hev. 

called Le-saw-saw. 

(name not recorded). 

represented in 
mortuary ritual 
by giant mask. 

called sap -sap. 

called sam-satn or 

A malicious Being. 

A Stone. 

also a woman. 

also a shark assisted 
by a bird I mor- 
tuary ritual). 

met at Cave. Ac- 
companied by 
Tagar-lawo, who 
intercedes for 

met at Bong-na-un. 








Payment to 
Guardian Spirit 

a pig. 

a pig. 

(a pig.) 

Pig also paid to 

(Nothing further 
known of journey 
till arrival at 

Nose devouring 
Stone at Orap, 
placated with a 

Ascends mountain 
with female 

Magic tree. 

on mountain. 

outside cave. 

climbs and eats 

gnaws trunk. 


Magic wand. 

strikes canoe. 

parts waters of 

Takes off burial 
mats at Pinalum. 

Arrival at Bong-na- 

wades over to 
small island. 

goes to place called 

Lights beacon 

and beckons with 
seaweed called 

with sticks of 
rapol wood. 

with brand stolen 
from living 

Met by Ferryman 

called Lingi 
(= conductor). 

called Shules, who 
returns to fetch 
the dead man's 
former kinsmen. 

Diminutive flotsam 

of banana-skin, 
banyan, bark, 

of driftwood. 

occupied by the 

Home of the Dead 
on Ambrim 


11 place of ghosts." 

(From here onwards my information is confined to Vao and Wala.) 




The dead dance all night. 

New-comer dances with them. 

Description of dance, led by 
famous spirit named Mai- 

(Falling off of heads vehemently 

Heads and bones fall asunder at 
Head of new arrival does not 
fall off till end of seventh 

Older and newer forms of culture 

In attempting an analysis of these stories it "is essential to 
remember that the older form of culture, with burial in the 


squatting position and the dolmen-Maki which are now found 
in the village of Petehul, on Vao, was at one time common to 
all three islands, but has since been profoundly modified by the 
introduction from the Malekulan mainland of a newer form of 
culture characterized by the monolith-Maki and extended 
burial. This culture has its present seat on Wala, whence it has 
spread in almost complete form to the Atchin twin-village of 
Ruruar (in which this island's version was recorded), while on 
Vao, though it has already exercised considerable influence, this 
influence is not nearly so profound. 

Beliefs held on Wala and Atchin only, but not on Vao, may 
then be safely taken to belong to the newer form of culture, while 
those held exclusively on Vao belong to the older. We shall expect 
also in all the islands to find evidence of a compromise between 
the two. 

Features peculiar to Vao 

Let us examine first those features of the tale which are 
peculiar to Vao. In the first place we find : 

(a) The existence of the previously dead within the cave. 
This is at complete variance with the conception of a home of 
the dead on Ambrim. 

(b) The presence of the Guardian Spirit in the cave, instead 
of barring the way to Ambrim at Bong-na-un as in the other 

(c) The presence, unknown in the other versions, of a second 
Spirit, Tagar-Lawo, who persuades the unwilling Guardian Spirit 
to let the dead man pass, and is himself rewarded with a pig. 

Cave, and not volcano, once the dead man's goal 

These features all suggest that at one time in the develop- 
ment of the story the cave itself, and not the volcano, must 
have been the dead man's goal. 

Guardian Spirit and Tagar-lawo. Sukwe and Tagaro. Raga 

Now the names of the Guardian Spirit, in Vao Le-hev-hev 
and in Atchin Le-saw-saw, can be shown, through the operation 
of phonetic laws, to be philologically equivalent. The word 
Le-saw-saw, shorn of its feminine prefix Le-, is also equivalent 
to sap-sap, the name of the giant mask representing this Being 
on Atchin, and also with the Northern New Hebrides culture- 
hero Supwe, spelt by Rivers Sukwe and by Codrington, according 
to the convention of the Melanesian Mission, Suqe. Tagar-lawo 
is also equivalent to the Northern New Hebrides Tagaro on the 


one hand, and to the Atchin Tahar, creator of all things, on the 
other. 1 

In Raga (Pentecost), from which one Vao village claims its 
origin, Tagaro is said to have a brother " Suqe, who accompanies 
and thwarts him. Tagaro came down from heaven, made men 
and other things, and went back again to heaven. Suqe belonged 
to the earth ; his head was forked, therefore he had two thoughts 
in it. Whatever Tagaro did or made was right, Suqe was always 
wrong. . . . Tagaro sent him to a place where there is a bottom- 
less chasm, somewhere inland in Araga (Raga), where he rules 
over the ghosts of the dead ". 2 

On Vao it is said of the Guardian Spirit, who has been shown 
to be equivalent to Suqe, that it is " irresponsible and in all 
things defiant ". This Spirit is associated with the good-tempered 
Tagar-lawo in precisely the same way as the erratic Suqe with 
the good Tagaro in Raga, and in both cases this Being is said 
to be the Guardian of the Dead. There is no doubt, then, that 
the stories correspond. In Raga, the tale ends in the cave ; 
there is no further journey. Here in the cave, in Vao also, the 
tale must once have ended. 

Malo. Supwe. Home of the dead in the Cave associated with 

Now in Malo, the next large island immediately north of 
Vao, belonging to the same matrilineal area as Raga, there is 
a form of dolmen-Maki actually called the Supwe (Suqe). More- 
over, old men, that is to say those of high standing in the Maki 
rite, are called in Atchin sup and in Vao humbe, which are the 
same word according to the sound-changes already indicated. 
Vao is the present seat of the dolmen-Maki, while in Atchin it 
has only recently been superseded. In Wala, the stronghold of 

1 In Wala and Atchin the sounds v or w (i.e. bilabial v), b, mb, m, and p are 
all more or less interchangeable, so that Le-saw-saw frequently sounds more 
like Le-sav-sav, while the mask representing her is called in Atchin sap-sap, 
in Wala sam-sam or sambe-sambe. Here the shorter clipped form sam-sam repre- 
sents the usual pronunciation by the younger men, while the older men retain 
the longer and more dignified sambe-sambe. These all represent what may be 
regarded as the normal phonetics of the Small Islands of Malekula. In Vao, how- 
ever, and at places like Matan-vat on the northern coast of Malekula, a peculiar 
phenomenon is present. In all labial and nasal consonants the tongue is pro- 
truded slightly beyond the lips, so that pairs of consonants so pronounced, such 
as d and b, m and n, p and /, are at first almost indistinguishable without com- 
parative philological knowledge. One effect of this is that v and w assume a 
sound almost exactly corresponding to the English voiced th. Thus my 
first spelling of Le-hev-hev (the Vao version of Le-saw-saw) was Le-heth-heth. 
Since finding this invariable phonetic rule, however, I have adopted the practice 
of writing down these consonants according to their philological equivalents 
but at the same time placing a long stroke over them indicating this protrusion, 
of the tongue. Further invariable sound-changes include the softening of 
Atchin s into Vao h, and the reduction of Vao g or gh to Atchin h. 

1 R. H. Codrington, The Melanesia, Oxford, 1891, p. 169. 


the monolith-Maki, the word for " old man " is quite different. 
It is then clear that Supwe, together with the words for " old 
man " derived from it, is primarily associated with the dolmen- 
rather than the monolith-Maki. Since this Supwe is also 
primarily associated with the cave, it becomes clear that the 
conception of a home of the dead within the cave, together with 
a non-petromorphic Guardian Spirit and the accompanying 
Tagar-lawo, belong to the older level of culture associated with 
the dolmen-Maki. 

Wala and Atchin version. Cave here also once the final goal 

Let us now turn to the Wala and Atchin versions of the 
story. That the cave was here also the final goal would seem 
to be suggested (a) by its very presence in the story, quite 
meaningless in its relation to a home on Ambrim, and (b) by the 
position of the " Whistling-stone ". From the account given in 
the Atchin version that the dead man walks round this stone 
" drawing in his breath with a whistling sound " and from the 
report of one of the mortuary officials at a recent burial that he 
heard the dead man whistling round his grave " drawing his 
breath in and out just as he did before he died", it is clear that 
this whistling represents something in the nature of a death 
rattle. The position of the stone outside the entrance to the cave 
is a clear indication that this feature of the journey represents 
the final act of the dead man before he enters the unknown. 

Ambrim story an addition, only partially accepted on Vao 

To this belief in a home of the dead within the cave has 
then been added at some later date the new conception of a 
home of the dead on a volcano situated on Ambrim, where the 
dead dance all night till dawn, when their heads fall off and their 
bones fall asunder, together with a series of events occurring 
on their journey thither. 

This new belief, held, with slight variations, both on Wala 
and on Atchin, has been accepted in part indeed on Vao, but 
with such slight conviction that 

(a) the dead still hover, with their attendant Guardian Spirit, 
in the cave ; 

(b) there is expressly stated ignorance of what happens to 
the dead man on his journey from the cave to the promontory 
at Bong-na-un ; 

(c) there is no gong-signal to accompany him on his way, 

(d) the Wala story of the disintegration of the head and 
bones of the dead after their nightly dance on Ambrim is 
vehemently denied. 


Clash between two beliefs. Ritual copyright. Only those new features 
are accepted which do not interfere with existing ritual or belief 

Why should this new belief, if held at all on Vao, be held so 
grudgingly and in such mutilated state ? 

The explanation lies, I think, in the extent to which the 
various elements of the new belief clash with already existing 
mortuary and Maki ritual. Here we meet with a fundamental 
aspect of Small Island culture. No new rite or ceremony, no 
new mode of inhumation, no new method of house-building, 
decoration, song or dance, nothing in any aspect of material or 
ceremonial culture from the most important down to the most 
trivial, may be adopted by one individual, family, or village 
from another without payment to a previous owner or 
practitioner. Such payments for important rites are extremely 
heavy. Each separate item must be paid for, always to the last 
owner. In the case of public rites, such copyright transactions 
occur almost invariably between contiguous villages. When we 
remember, for instance, that the Maki ritual in all its complexity 
takes roughly thirty years to perform, that it is made up of countless 
smaller rites, each of which must be separately bought, that this 
can be done only when the rite is actually performed, that there 
are six, villages on one island, and that we are here dealing with 
three such islands, then some conception will be gained of the 
number of generations it will take under existing conditions in 
the Small Islands for any given rite to circulate. 

Beliefs unconnected with ritual have, on the other hand, no 
bar to circulation. 

Dead on Ambrim, beacon, ferryman, flotsam, canoe, nightly dance 
of the dead 

Thus the plain conception of a home of the dead on Ambrim 
meets with no ritual objection. Burial at sundown may well 
coincide with former practice, and in any case time is not 
purchasable. The only other ritual observance is the minor one, 
also not purchasable, of sacrificing a pig at burial so as to be 
on the safe side " in case the dead man should start quickly 
on his journey ". 

In the same way, beliefs concerning the lighting of a beacon 
at Bong-na-un, the ferryman and the passage over in a diminutive 
flotsam canoe are ritually innocuous. It may be noted in passing, 
however, that while the name given to the ferryman on Vao 
is purely descriptive, that recorded on Wala has almost certainly 
ritual significance connected with the feast of communion with 
the dead. This feast, however, is common to- both forms of 
mortuary rite, both that in which burial is in the squatting 
position, as on Vao, and that in which it is in the extended or 


sitting position as is the case on Wala, so that the dropping 
of the name on Vao merely shows less familiarity with the 

All-night dancing by successive villages in set rotation, as 
reported of the dead on Ambrim, is a feature common to all 
mortuary and both Maki rites on Vao as on the other 
islands, while the special Vao account of Mal-kalaut leading 
the dance is a faithful representation of what actually takes 
place on these occasions, using a local ancestor as the leading 

This exhausts those features of the tale which are common 
to all three islands, as well as those which are peculiar to Vao. 

Features peculiar to Wala and Atchin 

Let us now turn to those peculiar to Wala and to Atchin, 
and inquire as nearly as we can why this should be the case. 

Transference of Guardian Spirit to Bong-na-un. Disappearance 

of Tagar-lawo 

In the first place we find the new conception of a home of 
the dead on Ambrim to be held so strongly as to have caused 
the transference of the Guardian Spirit from the threshold of the 
cave, where she is met with in the Vao version, to the reef at 
Bong-na-un, which, according to the new belief, is the final 
point of departure of the dead from Malekula for their new home 
on Ambrim. A secondary effect of this transference is the com- 
plete loss of the companion Spirit Tagar-lawo. The cave, once 
populated by the dead, is now empty and but an incidental feature 
of the journey. 

Petromorphic Beings. Association with monolith-Maki 

What of the remaining features of the story as related in 
the Wala and the Atchin versions ? Prominent among these are 
upright Stones. 

Not only is the Guardian Spirit transferred from the cave 
to Bong-na-un, but here, according to the Wala version, she 
becomes a Stone standing in the sea. The dead man also meets 
with the Nose-devouring Stone at Orap and the Whistling- 
stone outside the cave. Whether the Whistling-stone is or 
ever was endowed with life there is no evidence to tell ; 
the stories show, however, that the other two are definitely 
petromorphic Beings endowed with life and thought and power 
of action. 

Both on the Malekulan mainland and on Wala and Atchin 
culture-heroes of both sexes are frequently said to have the 


power of transforming themselves into stone. Many of these may 
be seen represented by natural coral blocks or humanly erected 
monoliths. To what extent this petromorphism obtains on Vao 
I do not know. It is quite certain, however, that it has nothing 
like the prominence there as on the other islands. I have, more- 
over, already stated that the chief innovation of the newer 
culture radiating northwards from its seat on Wala is the 
enormous increase in monoliths representing ancestors which are 
erected in the Maki rite. This new monolith-, as opposed to 
the old dolmen-Maki, has not yet reached the village Petehul, 
from which the Vao version of the story was obtained, and it 
was here definitely stated that knowledge of events on the portion 
of the journey between the cave and Bong-na-un was peculiar 
to the other islands. It would then seem that these features of 
the journey are definitely connected with the newer form of 
culture and the Maki monoliths. 

It is of interest here to note that these features are not denied, 
but merely ignored, on Vao, since on this island there is no 
definite bar to the idea of monoliths, but they are simply not of 
the same absorbing interest ritually as they are on the two 
other islands. 

Magic Wand 

Another feature of this portion of the journey is the magic 
wand cut to equal the length of the dead man 's body and buried with 
him in the grave. This, too, does not occur in the Vao version. 
It has already been pointed out that burial in the squatting 
position is associated with the older form of culture and the 
dolmen-Maki still found on Vao, and that the newer culture, 
together with the monolith-Maki, introduced extended burial. 
A moment's thought will show that no wand cut to the length 
of the living figure could possibly fit in to any grave in which 
the body does not lie at its full length. The magic wand is 
thus also seen to belong to the newer form of culture un- 
acceptable on Vao owing to conflict with existing mortuary 

Heads of the dead fall off. Sitting interment 

Let us now turn to the Wala version of the nightly dancing 
of the dead, whose heads fall off and bones fall asunder every 
dawn. In Vao this statement is not just ignored, but vehemently 
denied, and it is simply said that the dead dance all night and 
sleep all day. Here we are again face to face with mortuary 
practice and belief. For, while on Wala and the Malekulan 
mainland the heads of the dead are removed from the body 
some time after burial and receive special treatment, on Vao 


any such disturbance of the body after death is definitely 

This feature is then also seen to belong to the newer form 
of culture, but to be unacceptable on Vao because conflicting 
with existing practice and belief. 1 

Seven-day probation as opposed to five-day probation on Vao 

In the Wala version of the story the head and bones of the 
newly-arrived dead man on Ambrim do not fall asunder till the 
seventh day. This indicates a seven-day period of probation 
before the dead man achieves full status in the future life. It 
is on this day, and not till then, that his relatives at home on 
Wala first blacken their faces. The number 7 is associated through- 
out the mortuary ritual in these islands with burial in the 
extended position, while that associated with burial in the 
squatting position is 5. It is, therefore, on the fifth day after 
death that the blackening of faces begins on Vao. 

Now, we are told by Codrington that Suqe ' ' would have men 
die only for five days ", 2 a statement indicating resurrec- 
tion, or at least attainment of full status in the future life, on 
the fifth day after death. This belief would then appear to 
be associated with burial in the squatting position and the 
home of the dead within the cave. 

In Wala a survival of this belief is seen in a rite held 
on the eve of the Fifth Day after death, for though the 
dead man is supposed to have made his way to Ambrim 
on the night of burial, there is yet a fear that he may still 
be lingering near until this day. So four men are detailed to 
stand, two on either side of the grave, and to perform evolutions 
with their hands designed to drive the ghost away, while at the 
same time they draw their breath in and out with a whistling 
sound similar to that made by the dead man at the Whistling- 
stone. This agrees with the supposition already arrived at that 
whistling (though probably not the Whistling-stone itself) is 
associated primarily with the older cult of the home of the 
dead within the cave. This survival does not, however, interfere 
in any way with the celebrations held in Wala on the seventh 
day in honour of the dead man's achievement of full status 
on Ambrim. 

In Vao the conflict of belief takes quite a different form. 
Here, where old men are buried in the squatting position, and the 

1 It is unfortunate that I did not obtain the Atchin version of this portion 
of the story. One of the Wala mortuary practices that have not yet reached 
this island is this removal of the head. It would be of the greatest interest to 
know whether this culture-lag had or had not the effect of preventing the 
acceptance of the Wala story of the falling off of heads among the living dead 
on Ambrim. 

a Codrington, ibid., p. 169. 


conception of a home of the dead on Ambrim is only partially 
accepted, there is for old men no celebration on the Seventh 
Day at all, and faces are blackened on the Fifth Day after death. 
It is clear, too, that in the older layer of belief, the dead did 
not start out on their journey immediately after burial, for it 
is not till the day following burial that ten boars are sacrificed 
for the use of the dead man on his journey. New ideas associated 
with the Ambrim journey have, however, gained sufficient 
credence to have caused the slaying of a small pig by the chief 
mortuary official at burial, so that in case the dead man should 
" go away quickly " and the ten pigs killed on the morrow should 
be too late, the dead man should have at least one ghost-pig 
with him, with which to pay the Guardian Spirit at the outset 
of his journey. Here, too, the burial of old men at sundown 
is clearly timed to coincide with the reception of the dead man 
on the volcano. The seven-day period of probation (though not 
on the volcano) is also grudgingly accepted in one statement 
made to me on Vao to the effect that, " We rest in our graves for 
seven days. On the seventh day our heads fall off our bodies. 
Then we start on our journey to Ambrim/ 1 l 

Though the number 7, so far as mortuary practice is con- 
cerned, is essentially connected with extended, as opposed to 
squatting, burial, it occurs so frequently in all initiation rites, 
particularly as the period elapsing between ritual death and 
resurrection, and also in both Maki rites, that I hesitate to assign 
it exclusively to either form of north-eastern Malekulan culture, 
though in its present context it would seem to be associated with 
the newer. 


A further doubtful feature, so far as significance and culture- 
level are concerned, is the report from Wala of the planting 
of a banana by the dead man on Ambrim. In the Vao mortuary 
rites, the fourteenth day after death is one of great activity 
and marks the end of the assistant mortuary officials' vigil in 
the dead man's lodge. Among the many minor rites performed 
on this day, a banana and a special kind of yam are planted 
in the dancing-ground and surrounded by a circular fence. 
Similar fences are erected on the thirtieth day after death on 
Wala, and at an unrecorded date on Atchin, though I have no 
mention in my notes of the planting of bananas in them. On 
this doubtful evidence it would, on the whole, appear as if this 
feature of the Ambrim story, though unrecorded, had been 
adopted, with its attendant ritual, on Vao. 

1 This statement may, on the other hand, have referred exclusively to young 
men, who, though buried in the extended position, do not go to Ambrim after 
death (see p. 140). 


Mountain and Magic Tree. Associated with the Cave (?) 

Only two features of the journey now remain to be considered. 
The first of these, occurring only in the Atchin version, is the 
ascent by the dead man at the outset of his journey of a mountain 
called Tawo-leter-rum-rum. Tawo is the name of a tree with 
buttress-roots appearing frequently in ritual, but the significance 
of which I do not know. Le-ter is the title taken by an elderly 
woman when her son performs the Maki sacrifice. This is 
the case in both forms of Maki. What is the function 
of this mountain, and why it should receive this name, I 
cannot say. 

The last feature is the Magic Tree. This tree is stated to 
be a navi, which has a round red fruit with an appearance not 
unlike that of a small apple. It is apparently the same as the 
na-avri tree, which grew the forbidden fruit in the story of that 
name recounted from South-West Bay. The special name 
given to the tree is in Atchin wi-n' men-men, and in Wala 
nu-ivi-men-men. Men is probably a modification of man, the 
word for " magic " ; n' and nu are articles. In real life the 
navi fruit is used, among other things, for rearing babies 
whose mothers' milk has failed. Whether this fact has any 
significance in relation to the giving of new life to the dead 
I cannot say. 

Mountain and Magic Tree both appear to be closely associated 
with the cave. Why the Mountain should appear only in the 
Atchin version I do not know, nor can I offer any explanation 
why both are absent from the account obtained in Vao. These 
may be cases of omission, and in the absence of any further 
evidence it is not possible at present to determine to which 
culture-level they belong. 

The results of this discussion are tabulated overleaf. 

Newer and older cultures : terms used locally 

One necessary observation remains to be made regarding 
what, for the purpose of this paper, I have termed the older 
and the newer cultures. One thing which I have purposely 
left out of this discussion is the fact that in Vao, though old 
men are buried in the squatting position and in their case no 
attention whatever is paid to the seventh day, young men are 
buried in the extended position, and though their bodies remain 
untouched, their heads are said to fall off on the seventh day in 
the grave, and on the seventh day a rite is performed by the 
living to celebrate this supposed event. Thus the burial of young 
men is clearly associated with what I have called the newer 
culture, and the supposed severance of the head on the seventh 



Older form of 

Newer form of culture with its present 

culture surviving 

seat on Wala. 


on Vao. 

(Tagaro and 


(Tahar only.) 


Extended interment associated with 


sitting interment and removal of the 




(accepted on Vao.) 

(not accepted on 

Ascent of 


Magic Tree. 

(Special gong-signal.) 

Home of the Dead 

Home of the Dead 

in the Cave. 

on Ambrim. 

Guardian Spirit 

Guardian Spirit at 

and Tagar-lawo 


in the Cave. 

Guardian Spirit a 

stone and shark. 

(? whistling.) 




Magic Wand. 

(Dead man discards 

burial mat.) 

Beacon at Bong- 

na- un 


Flotsam canoe. 

Nightly dance of 

the Dead. 

Banana planted. 

Five-day proba- 

Seven-day proba- 

tion period. 

tion period. 

Falling off of heads. 

Table showing conclusions suggested in regard to culture-level 

day within the grave reflects the actual removal of the heads 
of old men on Wala and the Malekulan mainland. How, then, 
since extended burial for old men, together with the removal 
of heads and the importance of a seven-day probation period 
after death, is only now moving by slow degrees northward 
from Wala towards Vao, can we explain the presence of these 
ideas connected with young men on Vao ? In the first place 
it must be noted that young men, not having gone through the 
laborious ritual necessary to the attainment of future life, do 
not go when they are dead to Ambrim. Therefore, the time of 
day at which they are committed to the ground is of no moment, 
and on the day after death a rite called Atean is held, expressing 


sorrow at their untimely end, a rite omitted in the case of an 
old man, for a young man is dead and finished, whereas an old 
man attains everlasting life, and those left behind rejoice. 
Moreover, young men are buried in their respective dwelling 
houses, whereas old men, whether squatting as on Vao or extended 
as on Wala, are buried in the cemetery beside the lodge. 

What complicated eddying of culture movement this denotes 
I cannot at present say, but would warn the reader that in using 
the terms " older " and " newer " culture I refer exclusively 
to movements in progress now and in recent generations in 
north-eastern Malekula, without prejudice to time-sequence of 
cultures in the larger sphere of Melanesia as a whole. 

Cave and Volcano in Eddystone 

Some similar amalgamation of beliefs as that which I have 
suggested appears to have occurred also in Eddystone of the 
Solomons, from which island the dead go to a " big cave in 
Mbombombelo ", where they " sleep in the daytime and go about 
at night ", 1 It is an essential part of the scheme put forward 
in this paper that the Vao belief that the dead " dance all night 
and sleep all day ", though the scene is now laid on the volcano, 
was originally associated with the cave, as opposed to the Wala 
belief, associated with the volcano, in the disintegration of the 
bones and the falling off of heads. The tale from Eddystone 
thus corroborates this detail, but pays court to the volcano 
story by placing the cave conveniently on the side of an extinct 

Early Layer of Belief 

Comparisons from further afield cannot be entered into here. 
Cave and volcano both appear to represent approaches to a 
world beneath the earth, though the cave may also indicate 
the cultural memory of a tomb. Rivers thought it " probable 
that the belief in an underground Hades reached through 
volcanoes or volcanic vents is to be associated with the earlier 
strata of the population of Melanesia ", 2 though he does not in 
this connection discuss the problem of the cave. 

Possible recent renaissance of north-east Malekidan culture 

It is indeed quite possible that the recent blossoming, in a 
peculiar form, of the culture of the north-east Malekulan main- 
land (of which the volcano story forms but a small part) represents 
in fact a local renaissance in opposition to, perhaps even 
stimulated by, an alien sea-borne culture which had made its 

1 A. M. Hocart, " The Cult of the Dead in Eddystone of the Solomons," 
JRAI., 1922, lii, 95. 

a W. H. R, Rivers, The History of Melanesian Society. Cambridge, 1914, ii, 479. 


home in the Small Islands, but with the decline in maritime 
enterprise has lost contact with its parent cultures in the north- 
eastern islands of the Group, and is now itself succumbing to 
the new forms arising from the contact. 

Detailed accounts of this extremely complex culture are in 
course of preparation, which it is hoped will throw more light on 
the whole problem. 

Note on sex of Guardian Spirit 

It is interesting to note that, whereas in Raga, Sukwe is a 
man, in Vao it is not known whether the equivalent Le-hev-hev 
is a man or a woman, while in Atchin Le-saw-saw is definitely a 
woman and the mother of ten sons. At the present time in the 
Small Islands the prefix Le- is used exclusively for women, every 
woman's name beginning with it. It is remarkable, however, 
that in the case of quite a number of undoubtedly male culture- 
heroes their names begin with this same prefix Le-. In a note 
on page 119 is cited the case of a man who actually took the name 
Le-hev-hev. Now, in the Northern New Hebrides, including 
Raga, descent is matrilineal, while in the Small Islands it is 
patrilineal. Of all the islands in this group, Vao is nearest 
geographically to the matrilineal area, and in its mortuary rites 
shows the strongest evidence of previous matrilineal descent. 
Thus we find the curious anomaly that in the matrilineal area 
the Guardian of the Dead is male, whereas in the patrilineal area 
it is female, whilst on the border-line between the two there is a 
conflict of opinion leading to uncertainty as to what sex it is. 
An explanation may conceivably be found if we suppose that 
the prefix Le- now used exclusively for women in the patrilineal 
area at one time indicated female descent, and not only female 
sex, and as such could be applied to men. This would provide a 
possible explanation for the application of this prefix to culture- 
heroes, and also possibly for confusion in the patrilineal area, 
where it is used exclusively for women, resulting, in the case of 
superhuman beings, in the mistaken notion that Le- indicated 
female sex rather than association with a former matrilineal 



In 1926 the first systematic investigation of the Stone-age 
cultures of Kenya Colony and Tanganyika Territory was 
begun, and although a very great deal remains to be done, it is 
now possible to give some sort of a picture of the sequence of 
cultures and their relationships to each other, and to various 
divisions of the Quaternary geology of the area. 

Perhaps one of the most striking results of what has been 
achieved up to date is the very close parallel which has been 
established between the sequence in East Africa with that in 
South- Western Europe. Of many factors which make the 
systematic stratigraphical study of Stone-age cultures in East 
Africa more easy than in Europe, the more important perhaps 
deserve special mention. 

In the first place we are fortunate that, with the important 
exception of small areas at high altitudes, East Africa was not 
affected by ice sheets at any period of the Quaternary. In 
Europe each successive re-advance of the glaciers tended to 
plough up, and otherwise disturb deposits formed at earlier 
stages of the Pleistocene, so that their interpretation is rendered 
far from straightforward. In East Africa where for the most 
part world climatic changes were reflected in alternating increase 
and decrease in rainfall the study of Pleistocene geological 
deposits is much easier. 

Furthermore, the geographical structure of much of East 
Africa is such that lake basins without outlet, except at very 
high levels, are a common feature. In these the fluctuations 
of climate are often magnificently recorded and can usually be 
accurately studied. In other ways, too, the physical geography 
of East Africa is particularly helpful. In many places deep 
gorges have been cut by recent erosive action right through 
Pleistocene deposits, exposing magnificent sections for study, 
whereas in England, Pleistocene studies are all too often hampered 
by the inadequacy of sections exposed by man in the course 
of purely commercial undertakings usually gravel-pits. 

In addition to all this we have the phenomenon of the Great 
Rift Valley which cuts right through the area being studied, 
and which often exposes in its walls excellent sections of 
quaternary rocks extending over very many miles. 


144 L- S. B. LEAKEY 

The principal areas which have been studied are the Nakuru 
Elmenteita basin, the Naivasha basin, the Oldoway gorge and 
surrounding country, the Kendu-Homa area, and the Kinangop 
Plateau. These areas are listed in the order in which they were 
studied. In point of fact the first two mainly yielded evidence 
concerning the Upper Pleistocene culture stages, while the 
next two yielded evidence of the sequence during the Lower and 
Middle Pleistocene. The last named region, the Kinangop, 
provided an exceptionally important connecting link between 
Middle and Upper Pleistocene, and enabled us to fill in a gap 
that was for a long time unbridged. 

There is now abundant evidence to show that from the 
earliest Pleistocene times (possibly even from the Pliocene) 
man has been living and developing in East Africa. The earliest 
known culture is that which we call Oldowan. The principal tool of 
the Oldowan culture is of very simple form. A rolled pebble or a 
nodule of chert, or a rough lump of almost any kind of rock is 
trimmed very roughly along one edge or side, so as to produce a 
jagged cutting edge. 

This tool, which is frequently referred to as a " pebble tool", 
of course persists for a very long time after new tool types had 
been evolved, so that its occurrence in any deposit is not proof 
of a high* antiquity of that deposit. But in deposits which on 
geological and faunistic grounds are considered to be Lower 
Pleistocene in age, implements of this type are the only ones 
known, unless one includes certain very roughly trimmed or 
utilized flakes. 

There is no doubt that the Oldowan culture persisted unchanged 
for a very long period, and it is not until deposits of the earliest 
part of the Middle Pleistocene are reached that we have been 
able to find evidence of the invention of any new tool types. 
At first all that is noticeable is a very gradual transition in the 
direction of crude hand-axes ; but once this transition has taken 
place the evolution is very much more rapid and new and more 
developed types of hand-axes appear, so that in the Middle 
Pleistocene period one sees a development from the crudest 
Chellean stage of culture at its base, to a very highly evolved 
Acheulean stage during its concluding centuries. 

There is as yet no positive and conclusive evidence for the 
co-existence of any other culture in East Africa during the main 
period of the development of the Chelleo-Acheulean culture 
complex, but it must be mentioned that, in certain regions at 
least, we have indications (which await detailed study next 
season) that during a part of this time a culture closely allied to 
the Levalloisian of Europe was present also. 

When we reach the closing stages of the first great pluvial 
period which we call the Kamasian, and which we consider to 


mark the end of the Middle Pleistocene, we find that four distinct 
cultures are co-existent. One of these, of course, is the final 
stage of the Acheulean ; the second is what we call Lower Kenya 
Mousterian ; the third is the Nanyukian, which has some elements 
of each of the other two ; while the fourth is a very crude and 
undeveloped stage of the Kenya Aurignacian. 

After a very short period of co-existence two of the four, 
the Acheulean and the Nanyukian, die out as far as we can at 
present ascertain, but the other two continue to develop side 
by side throughout the greater part of the second great pluvial 
period which we call Gamblian. One of the results of this long 
contemporaneity of the Kenya Mousterian and Kenya 
Aurignacian was that the former gradually developed into what 
we term the Kenya Stillbay, while the Kenya Aurignacian after a 
succession of intermediate stages reached what we term phase 
" c " of the Upper Kenya Aurignacian in which very crude 
pottery is present. 

There is still a gap in our knowledge as to what developments 
took place after this in the Aurignacian line of culture, but there 
is evidence that the Kenya Stillbay gave rise to a culture stage 
known as the Magosian during the somewhat arid epoch which 
marks the end of the Gamblian pluvial period. 

When the first post-pluvial wet phase (called Makalian) 
set in, we find that a strong culture called Elmenteitan was 
very widespread. It certainly has its roots in the Kenya 
Aurignacian although so far no connecting stage has been 
discovered. At the same time a culture group known as the 
Kenya Wilton appears on the scenes. The various industries 
of the Kenya Wilton strongly suggest that they are not all of 
the same origin. It is likely that the Kenya Wilton has a dual 
origin being in part a derivative of the Magosian and in part 
from phase " c " of the Kenya Aurignacian. Industries of strong 
Kenya Wilton affinities persist for a long time, and at least one 
of the Neolithic cultures that known as Gumban is descended 
from the Kenya Wilton. 

The Neolithic cultures proper do not appear, as far as we 
know, until the second post-pluvial wet phase, known as the 
Nakuran. So far two co-existent Neolithic cultures have been 
recognized, the Gumban and the Njoroan. The latter is a 
polished-axe culture, and there are already indications that it 
had several subdivisions. The Gumban culture has been divided 
into two groups Gumban A and Gumban B. This division is 
based upon marked differences in methods of burial, in the types of 
pottery made, and in the forms of the stone bowls used. 

Beads found in direct association with Gumban industries 
show that trade connections with the civilizations of the period 
(such as the Egyptian) existed. 



In the following table the culture stages are shown in 
their relation to each other and to the climatic subdivisions 
of the Pleistocene period. 





Njoroan (1) 


s ; 

(2) (3) 
A and B 

1 \ 


(1) Njoro Nakuni (3) 
(2) Willeys Kopje 

x / 





/" / 


Kenya (2) 
Wilton "B" 

Kenya (3) Elmenteitan 
Wilton "A" * 

.2 rt 

Longs Drift and Apis Rock (2) 
Elmcnteita Gambles Cave II (3; 








Apis Rock and Magosi 









Upper Kenya 


Apis Rock (Stillbay) 


Phase "C" 


Gambles Cave II Elmenteita 


(Upper Aurignacian) 


Little Gilgil River 


Malewa Gorge 






PenoQ of Rift Faulting and Great Volcanic Upheavals 

Nanyukian ^ 
Basal Aurignacian 1 
Early Mousterian f 
Acheulean 6 J 

Top beds of Kinangop Escarpmen 




Oldoway Bed IV 





Oldoway Bed III 








Oldoway Bed II 

Oldowan (Upper) 



Oldoway Bed I 

Oldowan (Basal) 


Note. No attempt faas been made to indicate relative duration of the geological divisions. 

In conclusion it must be mentioned that human remains have 
been found associated with certain of these culture stages, but 
this brief paper cannot include a discussion of them. It is 


sufficient to say that man of the genus Homo occurs at the very 
bottom of the sequence, and that the human remains found with 
a Chellean stage of culture are regarded as true but primitive 
examples of Homo sapiens. So that at the time of writing not 
only the earliest true Homo, but also the earliest true Homo 
sapiens can be claimed for East Africa. 




The selection of the above subject as my contribution to 
this volume is largely due to Seligman himself, who collected 
data concerning multiple-headed spears in Africa. This material 
he most kindly placed at my disposal, without the remotest 
inkling of my intention to make use of it in this way. From 
a scientific point of view it would undeniably have been of better 
advantage if / had handed over to Seligman my notes on these 
spears and suggested that he should work up the material. As 
things are, however, I am agreeably indebted to Professor 
Seligman and, indirectly also, to those who have supplied him 
with information, above all Louis Clarke, of Cambridge ; Henry 
Balfour, of Oxford ; and T. A. Joyce, of the British Museum ; and, 
in respect of detached items of information, F. von Luschan, 
of Berlin ; F. de Zeltner, of Paris ; V. Christian, of Vienna ; 
and Father M. Schulien, of Rome. For my own part it gives me 
great pleasure to express my thanks for valuable contributions 
to W. Schilde, of Plauen ; M. Heydrich and B. Struck, of 
Dresden ; F. Krause and P. Germann, of Leipzig ; Mile. E. 
Dijour, of Trocadero Museum, Paris ; J. Braunholtz, of the British 
Museum ; Father Schulien ; and H. Baumann and B. Anker- 
mann, of Berlin. I am in particular indebted to Dr. Schilde, 
who most unselfishly supplied me with a voluminous and valuable 
bibliographical list as well as excerpts. 

In these introductory remarks it should also be expressly 
mentioned that Seligman and I have to some extent been fore- 
stalled in that Schilde has already given attention to spears 
with more than one point, and, in his important essay, " Die 
afrikanischen Hoheitszeichen " (Zeitschr. f. Ethnologic, 1929), 
adduces a number of instances of their occurrence as well as 
a map of their distribution (p. 142). In this study such spears, 
however, only enter as a minor detail, and none are depicted. 

Let me begin by giving an account, so far as is known to me, 
of the geographical distribution in Africa of spears with two or 
more points, together with what information I have regarding 
their employment or significance. In association with the 
geographical data I shall also give the available information 
as to staves with a forked upper end. Fish-spears, on the other 
hand, I have not included except in cases where concurrently 



they are made to serve other purposes, being used as weapons, 
or in ritual performances, etc. With this, let us plunge in medias 
res, beginning on the West Coast of Africa and proceeding 

Schweiger-Lerchenfeld depicts a group of armed Woloff, 
two of whom are each carrying a two-pronged spear, but to this 
he does not refer in the letterpress l ; nor have I found any 
references either in Berenger-Feraud (Les peuplades de la S&ni- 
gambie, Paris, 1879) or in any other works on Senegal with the 
exception of two of the spears depicted by Jahns, 2 on each of 
which there are two secondary points at the base of the main 


FIG. 1. Mandigo spears. Portuguese Guinea (The Berlin Museum, Nos. Ill C, 
5472-4). (After Krause.) 

blade. According to Jahns, these spears are in the Dresden 
Museum, but Dr. Heydrich tells me that search for them there 
has been in vain. On the other hand, both bidents and tridents 
are known from Portuguese Guinea. Fig. i shows two such 
implements, stated to originate from the Mandingo and used 
for fishing. 3 Each point is a completely formed spear-blade and, 
as barbs are absent, it seems doubtful whether they are actually 
fish-spears. These Mandingo spears bear close resemblance to 

1 A. v. Schweiger-Lerchenfeld, Afrika, p. 320, Wien, 1886. 

a M. Jahns, Entwicklungsgeschichte d. alien Trutzwaffen, pi. xxxi, Berlin, 1899. 

8 E. Krause, Vorgeschichtliche Fischereigerate, p. 41, figs. 117, 119, Berlin, 
1904. These spears are found in the Museum far Volkerkunde in Berlin, Nos. Ill, 
C. 5472-4. 


FIG, 2. 

Spears. Bissagos Islands a, of wood carved in one piece, and with carved ornamentation ; b, iron 
point with incised ornaments , c t length of point 52 5 cm (Riksmuseum, Stockholm, Nos n n 

18 & 20 : 09.21.238.) 


the well-known Bissagos spears with one to three points, fairly 
common in museums, that also occur with wooden points carved 
in one piece, a few of which, forming part of the Riksmuseum 
collections, are here depicted (PL VI, Fig. 2,a-b\ cf . Fig. 3) . In the 
Copenhagen Museum there is a trident of wood, said to be for 

FIG. 3. Spear, Bissagos. 
(The Leipzig Museum.) 

FIG. 4. Bissagos Island spear of 
wood, said to be for fishing. 
(The Copenhagen Museum.) 

fishing, of which Seligman has sent me a sketch (Fig. 4). As, 
however, these Bissagos spears are barbless and, moreover, 
occasionally to a not inconsiderable extent ornamented (cf. 
Krause, Fig. 120), I doubt very much whether they should be 
described as " fish-spears ".* On the other hand, the object 

1 Schilde briefly but definitely states (op. cit., p. 94) that bidents occur as 
weapons in the Bissagos Islands. 


seen in PL VI, Fig. 2, c, and the four-pointed barbed Bissago spear 
depicted in the British Museum Handbook (1910), Fig. 164, No. 21, 
probably belong to this category. The Dresden Museum also 
possesses a few spears of a similar type (Nos. 5070, 5074, 6538). 
According to Doelter, who, however, makes no mention of spears 
with more than one point, the inhabitants of the Bissagos Islands, 
at any rate the Bijagos and the Papels, do not themselves 
manufacture their spear-heads. 1 When he visited the Papel 
king, the latter received him carrying a spear in his hand (p. 131, 
though no particulars are given). 

The almany (or emir) of Bondu carries a two-pronged staff 
as his badge of office (Schilde, p. 94). Among the Malinke 
about the Rivers Bafing and Bakoy (two of the chief sources 
of the Senegal), with the members of the Dialunfo society tridents 
and other spears play some part. 2 Schilde points out (p. 94) 
that Fulani chiefs in the region of the upper reaches of the Faleme 
(tributary to the Senegal) possess spears with more than one 
point. (Cf. infra, Fulani of Futa Jallon, Adamawa, and Darfur.) 

Four spears in the Trocadero Museum are stated to originate 
from"Guinee" (PI. VII, Fig. 5). 3 They were given by " Schoelcher, 
1885 ", and by " Roux, 1900 ". As these gentlemen are unknown 
to me their names give no indication of the supply provenance 
of the 'spears. With their exceedingly well-worked points, 
a-c are not suggestive of African origin but rather of Indo- 
China, while the more plain d perhaps presents a Somali 
appearance (cf. below). It is difficult to judge, however, merely 
from photographs. But in a letter to Seligman (dated 
24th August, 1922), Zeltner encloses a drawing representing 
so far as may be judged from the rough sketch a spear-head 
of a type similar to Fig. 5, c, and of this he writes : "II existe en 
Guinee fran?aise de ces lances : i. chez les Soussou et chez les 
Mendi (Sierra Leone), 2. chez les Foulbe du Fouta-Djalon. 
Peut-etre ne s'agit-il que d'armes de ceremonie." PL VII, Fig. 6, 
shows a spear (" covered with tiger skin "), from the Hcdemann 
Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts, stated to originate from 
Sierra Leone. 4 This spear can hardly have been used as a 
weapon. Chiefs in Sierra Leone, at all events among the Timne, 
use a long staff forked at the top. 5 Here may also be quoted 

1 C. Doelter, Uberdie Capverden nach d. Rio Grande u. Futah-Djallon, p. 125, 
Leipzig, 1884. 

2 De Kersaint-Gilly, Bulletin du Comite des tftudes historiques et scientifiques 
de I'Afrique occidental franf aise, 1919, p. 433 (according to information supplied 
by Schilde, this work not being accessible to me). 

8 Mile Dijour, who has kindly made a search at my request, has been unable 
to find any more in this museum. 

4 C. J. Hedemann, Catalogue of the Collections of Weapons, J^o. 411, Honolulu, 

6 N. W. Thomas, Anthropological Report on Sierra Leone, i, 28, London, 


Fio. 5. 

a, b t c t d. Spears. " Guinte " (Trocadero Museum, Paris, Nos 
51360-61 , " Douille fer et cuivre ", Nos 3616-17 ) 

FIG 6. 

Spear, " covered with 
tiger skin " Sierra 

Leone (Hcdeinann Col- 
lection, Honolulu ) 


FIG 7. 
Mandingo notable with tucleiit N Liberia P German n, photo. (The Leipzig Museum 



what has been said in a general way by Berry in his study of 
the natives of Sierra Leone : " On the West Coast of Africa a 
trident-shaped spear is the badge of office of a chief's prime 
minister or chief man, his treasurer and man of business, and by 
him carried before the chief as a symbol of his power, and forms 
part of the chief's regalia." l 

Dr. Germann has been kind enough to send me a photograph 
taken by him during his expedition to Liberia in 1928-9 repre- 
senting a Commendi (Mandingo) man of the Bangwalamai 
village in Northern Liberia (on the route Kolahun-Fangalahun- 
Bangwalamai-Pandemai) , holding a trident (PI. VIII, Fig. 7) . This 

FIG. 8. Spear-head with five points. West Africa. Zeltner has seen something 
similar in Sarafere on the middle Niger. (Drawing contained in a letter from 
Zeltner to Seligman. 2nd August, 1922.) 

spear belongs to the Germann Collection in the Leipzig Museum 
(No. 34106). This man was not a chief but one of the village 
notables. " The spear/' Germann writes me, " was evidently 
his badge of office, for when I was about to photograph him 
he first dived into his hut and then reappeared with his spear. 
Hence it is plain that he considered it highly important that he 
should not be recorded on the camera plate unaccompanied by 
his emblem of authority. A chief's emblem, properly speaking, 
in these parts consists apart from the official staff of an 

1 R. G. Berry, " The Sierra Leone Cannibals, with Notes on their History, 
Religion, and Customs," Proceed. R. Irish Academy, xxx, B. Nos. 4, 5, p. 68, 
Dublin, 1913. 



elephant-tail fly-switch or else the sword worn by the chief's 
messengers as a warrant of their commission/' 

Among the Avikam, of the Ivory Coast (inhabiting an island 
in the lagoon at Lahou) , Joseph noticed some old and rusty spears 
with one or two points, no longer in use. As for a long time 
the Avikam have been using fire-arms and do not, at any rate 
nowadays, work in iron, Joseph was unable to say whether the 
spears were of Avikam l manufacture. 

Seligman received from Zeltner (letter of 2nd August, 1922) 
a sketch of a spear with five heads from West Africa (Fig. 8), 
which is depicted by Verneau in Les Races Humaines (p. 272, 
fig. 237). 2 This spear is not likely to have been used as a weapon. 

FIG. 9. Objects of copper, found at Oyono, the Lobi region. (After Labouret.) 

Zeltner adds that he has seen a similar spear at Sarafere on the 
middle Niger (south-west of Timbuktu), used for ceremonial 

The hogon, the great chief of the Habe (Tombo), of the Hombori 
mountains in the Niger bend, who is also their high priest 
" possfcde un baton termine par une fourche trois dents, dont 

1 G. Joseph, " Notes sur les Avikams de la lagune de Lahous et les Didas 
de la region du Bas Bandama," Bull, et Mem. de la Soc. d' Anthropologie de Paris, 
i, 6, 245, Paris, 1910. 

* I have not this work at hand. 


il se sert pour sdparer, en cas de rixe (brawl), les combattants " i 
(cf. Morocco, infra). Or, as another writer expresses it : " Dans 
ses promenades et dans 1'exercice de ses fonctions il porte une 
canne en fer forge & trois renflements ou un Mton termine par 
trois branches, emblfemes du S&rviteur de la Triade Divine/' 2 

Among the Bosso of the region of Lake Debo the village 
headman, according to Frobenius, carries as a badge of office 
a spear (called ta), not having more than one point, it is true, 
but with two barbs on either side of its head. 3 

In the so-called Lobi ruins in the neighbourhood of the town 
of Gaua the Lobi district being situated west of the Black 
Volta River objects of copper have been discovered not 
spear-heads but a bident in the form of a two-headed snake, 
and a trident (Fig. 9, found at Oyono, north-west of Gaua). 
The origin of these ruins is unknown ; the present-day inhabitants 
say that they found them there on their arrival. Delafosse and 
Labouret believe, however, that the ruins are of negro origin, 
and parallels to the two-headed copper snakes have been found 
among two other negro tribes of the same region, viz. the Nabe 
and the Kulango, bordering on the south of Lobi. " Yegba, 
soeur de Loroda, patriarche des Nabe, possedait un fetiche 
redoutable, nomine Marsye ou Marse, represente par un serpent 
a deux tetes. II avait la propriete de proteger ses fidfeles et 
d'attirer la mort et les pires calamites sur ceux qu'on lui designait. 
Le sanctuaire de ce Marse existe encore aujourd'hui a Biguelaye 
(N.-O. de Bouna). II n'est pas douteux que 1'effigie decouverte 
a Oyono ne soit celle du Marse des Nabe." . . . " Le trident 
a trois tetes de serpents serait une personnification de la Terre, 
puissance creatrice. Les Koulango le ven&rent pour obtenir 
une nombreuse posterite et une moisson abondante." . . . 
" Ainsi done, poteries et objets en cuivre trouves dans les ruines 
du Lobi semblent provenir des Koulango/' 4 

In the district of Atyuti, of Togoland, the fetish priest, who 
was also the chief of the country, possessed among other insignia 
the odom stick, which consisted of an ordinary stick, with short 
branching forks at its upper end. 5 The deity known as Jewe, 
worshipped by the Ewe tribe of Southern Togoland, who is the 
god of lightning, of snakes, of fishes, and is also a goddess, 
includes among the paraphernalia of its cult an iron staff 

1 R. Arnaud, " Notes sur les montagnards Habe" des cercles de Bandiagare 
et de Hombori (Soudan Fran^ais)," Revue d' Ethnographic et des Trad. Pop., 
pp. 252, 307, Paris, 1921. 

2 L. Desplagnes, Le plateau Central Nigerien, pp. 268, 322, Paris, 1907. 

3 L. Frobenius, Atlantis, vii, 72, Jena, 1924. 

4 H. Labouret, " Le mystere des ruines du Lobi," Revue d' Ethnographic et 
des Trad. Pop., p. 195, figs. 1-2, Paris, 1920. Labouret, Les Tribus du Rameau 
Lobi, pi. ii, Paris, 1931. 

6 v. Zech, " Vermischte Notizen ttber Togo u. das Togohinterland," Mitteil. 
aus d. Deutsch. Schutzgeb., xi, 2, 109, Berlin, 1908. 



I I 
I I 
I I 

1 i 

FIG. 10. Spear for crocodiles 
and large fish, also used 
in war and for taking 
victims for great canibal 
juju. Okrika town, S. 
Nigeria. (Pitt - Rivers 
Museum, P. A. Talbot, 

FIG. 12. The spear of Sarikin Ran, and 
the spear of Sarikin Masu, Hausa. 
(After Tremearne.) 


terminating at the upper end in two short arching branches, and 
known as Sofia (god's axe). 1 

Among the innumerable deities of the Yoruba, Frobenius 
mentions the goddess Osun, who lives in the Osun River and is 
especially worshipped in Ibadan and other habitations in the 
neighbourhood of the river. Among the objects pertaining to 
her cult, weapons occupy a leading position, including spears 
with two or more points. At the great festivals held in honour 
of this goddess these weapons are stuck into the river bank. 2 

In the Pitt-Rivers Museum in Oxford there is a spear with 
a very long shaft and four iron points (Fig. 10, a drawing sent 
by H. Balfour to Seligman) from the town of Okrika, South 
Nigeria. It is a spear for crocodiles and large fish, but also used 
in war and for taking victims for some great cannibal juju 
(presented by P. A. Talbot, 1916). The Pitt-Rivers Museum 
possesses fish-spears, bidents, and tridents, from South Nigeria. 

Among the Ibo in the Niger Delta there are " Title " Societies, 
composed of men who by purchase have attained to certain 
" titles ", as they are called, i.e. ranks of honour. These titles 
carry different emblems, and to some of the highest ones belong, 
among other things, spears of special types. Among these 
I do not know of any with more than one point, but I take this 
opportunity to draw attention to a spear now found in the 
Riksmuseum, pertaining to the ayari rank and possessing a 
forked butt (PI. IX, Fig. n). This was acquired by Dr. G. Bolinder 
in 1931 during his West African expedition, the cost of which 
was defrayed by Mr. John Morehead, United States Minister 
to Sweden. 3 

Professor Ankermann has been kind enough to supply the 
information, via Dr. Baumann, that in the small village of Baba 
(east of Bali) in Cameroon he saw the headman carrying a two- 
bladed spear as a badge of office. 

, In the cult of Yaku ("grandmother" or "ancestor") 
practised by the Jukun, in the basin of the Benue, are the symbols 
of the cult, (i) a mud pillar with a well into which the libations 
are poured, and (2) a forked piece of iron planted close to the 
pillar and known as the " spear ". Meek, who gives a detailed 
description of the Yaku rites, says that they " are akin to the 
states of dissociation and ecstacy known to the Hausa as bori ". 4 

1 C. Spiess, " Beitr. z. Kenntnis d. Religion u. d. Kulturformen in Siid- 
Togo," Baessler Archiv., ii, 64, Berlin, 1912. 

2 L. Frobenius, Atlantis, x, 161, Jena, 1926. 

8 The forked butts of this type are otherwise " only known from Egypt ", 
Flinders Petrie says, " where they have been found in graves with Cypriote 
pottery, probably therefore of northern mercenaries. . . . The use of a forked 
end might be either to rest on the toe, or in a loop, when riding, or to hold a 
cord in lancing the spear" W. M. Flinders Petrie, Tools and Weapons, p. 33, 
pi. xl, London, 1917. Earlier these butts seem to have been regarded as bidents 
(see Globus, 62, 294, fig. 7, Braunschweig, 1892). 

4 C. K. Meek, A Sudanese Kingdom, pp. 277 sq., London, 1931. 



The Jukun emigrated from Kordofan many years ago. They are 
Hamites, or semi-Hamitic, and constitute a sacerdotal hierarchy, 
dominating a number of loosely organized tribes. In the Middle 
Ages they exerted considerable power over a large part of 
Hausaland, but their power was destroyed by the Fulani. 

The emblems of some of the spirits (bori) believed in by the 
Hausa consist of multiple-pointed spears of a peculiar shape 
(Fig. 12). One of these spirits is Sarikin Rafi, the chief spirit 

FIG. 13. Fulani spear. 
Adamawa. (The Leip- 
zig Museum.) 

FIG. 14. Ceremonial staff of the Mahommedan 
chief or sultan of Karnak Logone, S.E. of 
Lake Chad. (The Cambridge Museum.) 

of the lakes and rivers. He is the patron of the rain-makers too. 
He and Sarikin Masu are originally, Tremearne says, avatars 
of the same spirit. Sarikin Masu is the name of Sarikin Rafi 
when he acts as a fisher. Similar weapons occur in Ashanti 
where they are used to stick into the ground to protect the 
crop sown from evil spirits. 1 

Meek has mentioned to Seligman that in Kanuri he has seen 
spears with two or three blades. So far as he knows they 
were not of religious or official importance. The chief of the town 

1 A. J. N. Tremearne, The Ban of the Bori, p. 416, and note p. 472, London, 



FK,. ix. 

Spear with forked butt. 
Carried by mm of the 
avan " title " Ibo, S. 
Nigeria (Riksmuseum, 
Morehead-Bolmder Col- 
lection, No 13 13 857.) 
(See p. 157 ) 

FIG. 15. 

Spear-heads, bidont and trident The- Pitn 

Sultanate- Length of the former, 54 7 cm 

(Riksmuseum, Nos. 26.26.438-39.) 

Spear, bident Mongalla 
( The Dresden Museum ) 
(See p 161 ) 

[facep 158 


of Gabai, in Bornu, inhabited by a Mahommedan tribe called 
Ngassar " who say they came from the town of Ngusseri, near 
Constantinople, some 330 years ago " had a very good armoury, 
inter alia, long spears with four-bladed heads. 1 

The Leipzig Museum possesses a trident from the Fulani 
of Adamawa (Fig. 13) . 

Barth publishes a drawing of a fish-spear from the Musgu, 
an iron trident which may be supposed to have been occasionally 
used as a weapon. 2 

The Cambridge Museum possesses " a ceremonial staff of 
the Mahommedan chief or sultan of Karnak Logone " (Logone 
Birni) which is forked at its upper end (Fig. 14), according to 
a letter to Seligman from Clarke, 4th October, 1922. 

From the Bagirmi there is the well-known picture in Denham 
and Clapperton's travels of the double-bladed spear, used for 
war by the cavalry who employed quilted armour. 3 From 
another, and earlier, work I have noted (unfortunately without 
specifying the author's name or the title of the work) that the 
sultan (barma) in the procession celebrating a victorious war 
carried a long, peculiarly shaped sacred spear. From Fitri, 
Lieutenant G. Moberg has acquired for the Riksmuseum two 
spear-heads, one with two, the other with three points, one of 
the latter barbed (PI. IX, Fig. 15). Spears of this kind were 
carried by participants in the acrobatic exhibition of horseman- 
ship (" fantasia ") given by the Sultan Mahmat at the time of 
Moberg's visit. 4 

Among the " Felata " in Darfur and Kordofan (i.e. Fulani 
immigrated into these countries) the sultans possess a spear 
with three points (Fig. i6). 5 Cf. supra the Fulani of Senegal, 
Futa Jalon, and Adamawa. 

The rain-makers among the Nuba possess certain sacred 
spears (oro) , and spears of this kind similarly play an important 
part in the Dinka great rain-making ceremony, but I do not 
know what these spears are like. 6 

Speaking of the southern Bari, Kotschy says : " Auch sind 
alle Volker mit grossen Keulen von schwarzen Ebenholtz 
bewaffnet und einem Dreizack mit schneidenden Klingen, 

1 O. Macleod, Chiefs and Cities in Central Africa, p. 254, London, 1912. 

2 H. Barth, " Reiscn und Entdeckungen, in N.- und C.-Afnka," ii, 38, 
Gotha, 1860. 

3 D. Denham and H. Clapperton, Narrative of Travels, etc., appendix, 
London, 1826. The same picture in J. G. Wood, Natural History of Man, p. 709 
(London, 1874), and F. Ratzel, Volkerkunde, ii, 497 (Leipzig, 1895). 

4 G. Moberg, Rddslans land. 16,000 km. genom Sahara och Sudan, p. 368, 
Stockholm, 1927. 

5 von Heuglin, in Petermanns Mitteilungen, Erg. H., ii, 1862, frontispiece, 
fig. 12, Gotha, 1863. 

6 C. G. Seligman, the articles " Nuba " and " Dinka " in Encyclopaedia of 
'Religion and Ethics, ix, 404, and iv, 712. 



FIG. 17. Lotuko rain-spear. (From 
a drawing by Seligman ) 

FIG. 16. The three-bladed spear of 
the sultans of the " Felata " 
(Fulani). Darfur and Kordofan. 
(After von Heuglin ) 

FK. 10 
Alur spear. (Hmin Pasha's Collection, Vienna 

Fir. 20. 

Spear-bead. Mangbetu 
( 1 he Dresden Museum ) 

[face p 1 60 


welchen sie aus freier Hand gegen den Feind schleudern." l 
South-west of Gondokoro, Morlang met with a blind Bari chief 
(mataf) who carried a forked staff, from the upper end of which 
was suspended a small bell which had been given to him by 
a burnt (medicine man), and therefore was very important. 2 
According to Kaufmann who confirms and to some extent 
supplements the data given by Kotschy regarding the Bari 
the title of matat is not exclusively applied to chiefs, but 
" jeder grossere Besitzer fiihrt nun diesen Titel und tragt einen 
zweizackigen Stock, putet, der wohl als Scepter gelten kann >> . 3 
But the Bari also possess rain-spears, and Spire makes mention 
of one with two points, used by Leju, the rain-maker of Shindurru, 
and the hereditary chief rain-maker of the Bari. Seligman has 
pointed out that this spear must be the equivalent of the two- 
bladed rain-spear of the Lotuko (see below). Seligman himself 
observed several spears, said to be rain-spears, among the Bari, 
but no two-bladed ones, although in other respects they differed 
from the ordinary spears of the Bari. 4 

Among the sacred rain-spears of the Lotuko, Seligman also 
found one which was double-bladed, and of this he has been kind 
enough to send me a drawing (Fig. 17) . 5 

Bernatzik cites an instance from the Moru. At a game- 
drive with hunting-nets, in which Bernatzik took part together 
with a Moru " sultan ", the men carried " schwere Speere mit 
doppelter Spitze. Die eine ist breit und lang, die andere hat 
meisselformiges Aussehen "* 

In the Dresden Museum there is a bident from Mongalla 
(Bari ? ), (No. 41334). A photo of it, kindly sent me by 
Dr. Heydrich (PI. IX, Fig. 18), shows two parallel points with 
barbs on the long proximal portion of their shafts. 

According to information supplied to Seligman by V. Christian, 
the Vienna Museum possesses among Emin Pasha's collections 
a double-bladed spear from the Alur (PI. X, Fig. 19). 

Struck has pointed out to me that an Azande spear with 
two points (broadly lanceolate) is depicted by Brown. 7 That 
this spear actually originates from the Azande is evident from 
the fact, as Struck says in his letter to me, that the one-bladed 
spears that are reproduced in the same picture are typically 

1 Th. Kotschy, in Mitteil. K. K. Geogr. Ges., p. 102, Wien, 1858. 

2 F. Morlang, in Petermanns Mitteilungen, p. 119, Gotha, 1862. 

3 A. Kaufmann, Das Gebiet d. Weissen Flusses u. dessen Bcwohner, p. 153, 
Brixen, 1861. 

4 C. G. and B. Z. Seligman, " The Bari," Journ. Roy. Anthr. Inst., 1922, pp. 466, 
469, 471 ; and F. Spire, " Rain-making in Equatorial Africa," Journ. Afr. Soc., 

5 C. G. and B. Z. Seligman, " Social Organization of the Lotuko," Sudan Notes 
and Records, 1925, p. 33, pi. iii. 

6 A. Bernatzik, Zwischen Weissem Nil und B el gisch- Kongo, p. 57, Wien, 1929. 

7 R. Brown, The Story of Africa, ii, 33, London, 1893. 


Azande spears. The Dresden Museum possesses a bident from 
the Mangbetu (No. 34106, PI. X, Fig. 20). 

From the White Nile region we may proceed eastwards as 
well as southwards and find further instances of spears with 
more than one point. To begin with, let us turn towards the east. 

In Kaffa a short two-bladed spear (shefo, Fig. 21) formed 
part of the state regalia that the emperor, along with his official 

FIG. 21. The bident (shefo) of the FIG. 22. -Amhara spear. Length of 

emperor of Kaffa. (After Bieber.) shaft, 2-5 m. (After Montandon.) 

or festal garb, was invested in when exercising functions of state 
or on other great occasions. The emperor carried one or two 
such two-headed spears in his right hand. Except by himself 
or, as a sign of him, carried by his messengers as token of their 
mission no spear of this kind was permitted to be carried by 
any Kaficho. The state regalia passed as heirlooms from emperor 
to emperor until the Abyssinians conquered Kaffa in I8Q7. 1 

1 F. J. Bieber, Kaffa, p. 74, fig. 219, Wien, 1923. Bieber, Das staatliche 
LebenderKaffitscho. Globus, 1908 (Bd. 93), pp. 166 (fig.), 168. A. Cecchi, Funf 
Jahre in Ostafrika, p. 216, Leipzig, 1888. 

FIG. 23. 

Abyssinian church-staves a, for the common people (all wuod, reinforced with a 
winding of iron wire) , b, for jiuns (with a top part nf hoin) , < , for monks (the upper 
part of brass). The length of a is i 37 m. (Kiksmuseum, Inv. 07 42 437-40.) 

FIG 25. 

Somali (?) spear Length 

of the blade to the left, 

from point to base, 1 1 cm, 

(British Museum ) 


When Cecchi saw the emperor in full court-dress, the latter 
carried two spears in his right hand, but Cecchi does not specify 
whether these were two-bladed (Cecchi, p. 427). According 
to Bieber, the Kaficho are descendants of fugitives from Amhara 
and Ennarea. 

Even among the entourage of the Emperor of Abyssinia it 
appears that high officials occasionally carried a bident. Thus, 
it is stated in a description of the festivities held in connection 
with the enthronement of Abuna (archbishop) Petro : "On horse- 
back and flourishing a ' sonderbare gabelformige Lanse ', 
Begerondi Leote (treasurer to, and favourite of, Negus Johannos) 
was by his personal appearance the centre of the eager spectators' 
admiring glances." l 

From Amhara (with a population in the strict sense 
Abyssinian) Montandon depicts, among other spears, one with 
two blades (Fig. 22) and a shaft of unusual length (2.5 m.), 
though he makes no mention of its use. 2 

Of the high-priest among the Gurage, Azais relates that 
in the centre of his courtyards " ce trouve I'emblfeme de sa 
puissance : un piquet en terre avec deux branches en 
forme d'U ". 3 According to Montandon, the Gurage are 
related to the Amhara and dwell south-west of Addis Ababa, 
between the River Omo and Lakes Zwai (Dembel) and Horadaka. 

From Abyssinia also come the staves in PI. XI, Fig. 23. I refer 
to them, especially the centre one, in order to avoid arousing 
confusion. For it should be noted that all three of them are 
exclusively utilitarian, being church staves (mokomia) used for 
leaning upon (while placed in the armpit) during the long drawn- 
out nocturnal divine services which the congregation generally 
attends standing. 

Let us then pass on to the Somali. In Paulitschke's 
monograph and other works I have been unable to find anything 
bearing reference to our subject, but Bricchetti depicts, without 
further mention, two double-bladed spears from the Northern 
Somali tribes, Darrod and Ishak (Fig. 24) . 4 The difference in 
the iron sheathing at their lower ends is noticeable. It may 
also be mentioned that in a letter (i5th September, 1922) to 
Seligman, Clarke categorically states that " the Somalis use a 
double-headed spear ". In addition I reproduce (PL XI, Fig. 25) 
a double-bladed spear in the British Museum with the inner 
edges sharp, the outer blunt. Braunholtz, who kindly sent 
me this photograph, says there are no particulars of its origin, 

1 R. Hartmann, Abyssinien u. die iibrigen Gebiete d. Ostkuste Afrikas, p. 123, 
Leipzig, 1883. 

2 G. Montandon, " Au Pays Ghimirra," Bulletin Soc. Neuchateloise de 
Geographic, t. xxii, fig. Ill, Neuchatel, 1913. 

3 Azai's, in Revue d' Ethnographic et des Trad. Pop., vii, 22. 

4 L. R. Bricchetti, Somalia e Benadir, pp. 219, 223, Milano, 1899. 



the piece was bought by Sir Wollaston Franks. Seligman has, 
however, sent me a photograph of the same spear, and in this 
it carries a label marked " Somaliland ". Judging from a drawing 
sent by Balfour to Seligman, a similar spear is found in the 
Pitt-Rivers Museum. This spear is merely labelled " Central 
Africa ", and " must have been brought about fifty years ago 
or so ; no details " (letter from Balfour to Seligman). On the 
origin of these two spears I cannot venture to pronounce an 
opinion. The Somali possibility should, I suppose, be taken 
into account, although the London spear, judging from the photo- 
graph, appears to be of rather too crude workmanship, being 

FIG. 24. Spears from the Somali tribes Darrod and Ishak. (After Bricchetti.) 

at all events substantially more clumsy than such Somali spears 
as I have had an opportunity of seeing. It may be that the 
nature of the shaft would prove indicative. 

Yet another important area remains, namely, the kingdoms 
of the Lake Region. In Unyoro multiple-headed spears were 
appurtenances of the king, or at any rate of the queen (only 
a royal princess, i.e. a half-sister of the king, could become 
queen). When the king had chosen his queen and she had 
seated herself on her throne, she received two insignia of office. 
One consisted of a knife " of a particular pattern ", and the other 
of " a long iron spear with two sharp points like a two-pronged 


fork, which was stuck in the ground, with the prongs upwards . . . 
she was also given a four-headed spear, which was intended for 
real use, for her new office carried with it estates and subjects 
and she had the power of life and death over all her people ", 1 

From Uganda, Roscoe mentions " the regal spear ", but 
he says nothing as to its appearance. 2 According to Hartmann 
(op. cit., p. 123), whose source of information is unknown to me, 
King Mtesa used a double-bladed spear as a kind of sceptre for 
the symbol of his power. In reply to an inquiry from Seligman, 
Father Schulien has given the following information : " (i) 
Double-bladed spears are insignia of supremacy. The Kabaka 
(King) of Buganda is supposed to possess supernatural power 
over his enemies, and therefore in wars he is supposed to fight 
as if he possessed double spears, meaning double force. Kings 
of Buganda are not supposed to really die, their spirit remains, 
and double-bladed spears are placed around their graves to 
enable them to overcome their enemies. (2) No legends or stories 
point to their use in olden days. (3) The high-priests of the 
principal deities had double-bladed spears in their temples as 
a sign of their supernatural power with which they could over- 
come their foes or the various ills of mankind ; in the latter case 
they held the double-bladed spear in their hands as a wand, 
not as a sign of magic, but to denote that they were above 
ordinary creatures/' The same thing has been told me by 
Father Schulien, who states that this informant is Monsignore 
J. W. Campling, of Nsambya, Uganda, vicario apostolico of the 
Upper Nile. And lastly, Seligman has given me the following 
description of a Baganda spear in Roscoe's collection in the 
Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Cambridge : " Iron 
spear-head, with head and shaft wrought in the solid. It has 
two blades set face to face, each of which has a circular perforation 
at base of blade, and there is a circular perforation through 
the neck of the shaft. Length 46*1 in. Each blade is simply leaf- 
shaped, without midrib. From a temple/' 

The king of Ankole, too, possesses " sacred spears ", but those 
depicted by Roscoe are exclusively one-bladed. 3 In another 
work 4 Roscoe says that the ruler of Ankole, when acting in his 
capacity of judge, " usually carried the ordinary walking-stick, 
a forked stick 6 or 7 feet long, called esando." On the 
ground of the epithet " ordinary " it seems to me, however, 
uncertain whether this stick may properly be regarded as a 
symbol of authority for the king. 

From the " museum or armoury " of Rumanika, the king of 

1 J. Roscoe, The Bakitara or Banyoro, pp. 137, 146, Cambridge, 1923. 

2 Idem, The Baganda, pp. 194, 204, London, 1911. 

3 Idem, The Soul of Central Africa, pp. 70, 72, London, 1922. 
* Idem, The Banyankole, p. 13, London, 1923. 



Karagwe, Stanley among other things mentions double-bladed 
spears. 1 

vSacred spears, objects of worship, were also found in Urundi. 
" The great national rite is the adoration of the sacred spear of 
Kiranga " (a spirit accorded worship). 2 The appearance of 
those spears is, however, unknown to me. Furthermore, I wish 
to draw attention to a " Zauberspeer " (Fig. 26) from Kiziba, 
depicted by Rehse, 3 which shows an incipience of three points. 
Rehse has an illustration of it in the chapter on agriculture, 
but I can find no mention of it in his book. In Kiziba, the 
king and the ruling class consist of immigrated Bahima, and the 

FIG. 26. " Zauberspeer." Kiziba. One-third nat. size. (After Rehse.) 

members of the royal family trace their descent to the first 
Bunyoro-ruler in Karagwe. 

Sacred spears rain-spears as well as other kinds seem 
to occur among a great number of peoples of the White Nile 
region and farther south. Research into the types and 
distribution of these spears would no doubt be interesting. 

For the sake of completeness I will here include an isolated 
instance from Tanganyika Territory, namely, among the Wataturu 
of the undrained area, from whom the guide-book of the Berlin 
Museum mentions " dreizackige Speere ".* In reply to my 

1 H. M. Stanley, Through the Dark Continent, i, 472, London, 1878. 

2 E. S. Hartland, in Encycl. ReL and Ethics, ii, 359. " 

8 H. Rehse, Kiziba. Land und Leute, fig. 63, Stuttgart, 1910. 

4 Vorlaufiger Fuhrer durch das Museum/. Volkerkunde, p. 124, Berlin, 1926. 


= 2 




inquiry, Dr. Baumann has informed me that the Museum 
possesses a spear of that kind (No. Ill, E. 11806), found in 1905 
in a hut at Turu, and " undoubtedly of foreign origin ".* A 
drawing appended by Baumann shows its point to be roughly 
of the same shape as the well-known trident paddles of the 
upper Guinea Coast. 

From the region between Lake Victoria and the Indian Ocean 
I only know of a solitary instance, viz. from the Akamba. 
Certain of their old men are called mutumia (pi. atumia). This 
dignity is usually reached at an age of forty to fifty. The 
outward sign of a mutumia is the little round stool, which is 
carried everywhere. All atumia are, however, not on the same 
level. The highest in rank are those who administer the govern- 
ment of the district and watch over the religion, atumia ma nzama 
and atumia ma ithembo. They carry a pronged staff (maka) as a 
symbol of their dignity (PI. XII, Fig. 27). If anyone else ventures 
to carry such a one, he runs, at least, the risk of being ridiculed. 2 

From the Swahili I have no authenticated instance, but 
one from the fisher population in the village of Makunduchi 
in the south-east portion of Zanzibar, may be included here. 
At the exorcizing dance known as nyange the name of a devil 
a dance performed by women, " about a dozen of the women 
carry iron tridents affixed to long handles/' 3 This devil is 
said to be contracted only at sea. Ingrams says that many years 
ago three women went down to the shore to fish and saw a devil 
coming towards them in a canoe holding in his hand a trident, 
and at the sight of him they were afflicted with madness. No 
one knew how to deal with this strange devil, until the remedy 
was revealed in a dream, and the dance nyange is the result. 
" No one can fail," Ingrams adds, " to be struck by the likeness 
of the sea-devil with a trident (a weapon unknown in Zanzibar 
and used by the people of Makunduchi only in this dance) to 
the story of Poseidon, and there can be little doubt that it is 
a relic of the worship of that deity, brought by the Greeks of 
old/' The people of Makunduchi are Wahadimu (the original 
inhabitants of Zanzibar Island), but, according to Ingrams, they 
differ in many ways from the rest of that tribe. The villagers 
themselves derive the name of Makunduchi from a village of 
the mainland, opposite the south part of the island and called 
Konduchi, whence they state they came. Since (in 1907) 
a coin of Ptolemy X Soter (151-80 B.C.) was found at Msasani, 
north of Dar-es-Salaam and but a short distance from Konduchi, 

1 Of this spear, the Catalogue says : " Hellebardenartiger Speer, in einer 
Hutte in Turu gefunden, der zweifellos fremden Ursprungs ist. Holzschaft mit 
Messing- und Eisenband spiralig umwickelt. Eisenschuh. Lg. 1 -65 m. Sammler: 
von Prittwitz (1905)." 

a G. Lindblom, The Akamba of British East Africa, p. 144, Uppsala, 1920. 

s W. H. Ingrams, Zanzibar, p. 485, London, 1931. 



FIG. 29. Spear from the Lower Congo. One point is of brass, the other of iron. 
A portion of the shaft is wound with flattened brass wire. Pointed iron 
ferrule, length 17-6 cm. Total length of spear 1-52 m. ; of points 25 cm. 
(Swedish Missionary Association Collections ; unnumbered.) (See p. 170.) 

Spear with two points, set closely together. 

Congo (Ubangi ') Length, including socket, 

60 cm. (Kiksmuseum, Inv. 07.61 5.) 

FIG 31- 

Spear, Lake Leopold II, Congo 
(Seep 170.) 

[ face (?. 168 


there has been a tendency to identify this place with the town 
of Rhapta mentioned in Periplus. 

I am further able to adduce a few instances from the Congo 

FIG. 32. Symbol of rank for 
high functionaries at the 
court of the Paramount 
Chief of the Bushongo 
(Bakuba). (After Torday 
and Joyce.) 

FIG. 33. Throwing-spears. Bankutu 
Congo. (After Torday and Joyce.) 

where, among a large number of forms, spears of two or more 
points are found. The Riksmuseum possesses one with two 
points of iron set very closely together (PI. XIII, Fig. 28) . Even the 


lower part is forked. The wooden shaft has a carved thickened 
portion, above and below which it is wound with iron, copper, 
and brass. Particulars as to use and locality are lacking 
(somewhere on the Ubangi river P), 1 but considering its decoration 
it is not impossible that it belonged to a chief or was used for 
some ritual purpose. It was brought by Soderberg, a Swedish 
engineer in the service of the Congo State. 

The Swedish Missionary Association possesses in its collections 
a double-bladed Congo spear (Fig. 29). One of its blades is 
of brass, the other of iron. Particulars as to locality are not 
given, but the spear probably comes from the lower Congo River 
the principal sphere of this society's activities in the Congo. 
It can scarcely be a weapon as it is too light and slender. 

The natives of the area surrounding Lake Leopold II use 
or at any rate did, when the Europeans first arrived knives 
of a particular shape as well as spears with one to three points 
as insignia of rank. PI. XII, Fig. 30, shows Tumba chiefs of 
Bongo (between Lake Leopold II and the Congo River), one of 
whom is carrying a double-bladed spear. 2 

Clarke (letter of 4th November, 1922) has sent Seligman a 
photograph of a double-bladed spear from Lake Leopold II 
(PL XIII, Fig. 31), which is of a more simple design than those 
mentioned in the foregoing, but of which it is distinctly stated : 
" objet de luxe, insigne de dignite, arme d'ostentation." 

A couple of high court functionaries with the Paramount Chief 
of the Bushongo (Bakuba) carry among other insignia of rank 
(Fig. 32) " des Cannes particuliferes taillees d'un seul morceau 
de bois en forme de quatre javelots reunis en faisceau ; chacune 
de ces Cannes est garnie & son extremite de quatre point es de fer ". 3 

Dr. Palmaer, physician to the Swedish Missionary Association 
in the Congo, tells me that among the Bakete he saw a chief 
carrying a forked and sculptured staff or sceptre (c. 1.5 m. long) 
as a symbol of his authority. The Bakete are located north of 
Luebo on the Lulua River and have been influenced by their 
neighbours, the Bakuba. 

The Bankutu, on the upper reaches of the Lukenye River, 
have a kind of peculiar thro wing-spear with four to five points 
(Fig. 33) which is used in hunting. 4 

1 Schmeltz and Josselin de Jong (Ethnographisch Album van het Stromgebied 
van den Congo, Haag, 1904-1916) depict from " Mobangi " one-bladed spears 
which in point of ornamentation of blades and shafts strongly resemble this 
spear (cf. pis. 131, 133, 148). 

2 J. Maes, " La Me"tallurgie chez les populations du Lac Leopold II-Lukenie," 
Ethnologica, iv, 94, fig. 21, Leipzig, 1930. 

8 E. Torday and T. A. Joyce, Notes ethnographiques, Bakuba, Bushongo, 
p. 56, fig. 45, Bruxelles, 1910. 

4 E. Torday and T. A. Joyce, Notes ethnographiques sur des populations 
habitant les bassins du Kasai et du Kwango oriental, p. 179, fig. 181, Bruxelles, 

] *I "T i -a". 

Fir. 34. 

Spear used by shenfs with a great reputation for holiness 
Fez) Length of the point, 3* cm. ; total Ion th I? 
museum, No 07 41 130) 7 

Fro. 36. 

Two-Wadpd spear Uganda (British 

Museum, No. 1936.1 57.) 

(-S/ 172) 

[face p, 170 



Newberry points out that the hieroglyph " harpoon " (bident) 
occurs as a ritual element on painted earthenware vessels in 
pre-historic graves between Cairo and Koshtamne, in Nubia, 
and that it has prevailed into historic time as a ritual object 
among the population on Lake Mareotis (Birket el Mariut, at 
Alexandria). The harpoon, Newberry further maintains, is 
the prototype of the bident and, later in time, of the trident 
pertaining to the Libyan god Poseidon. 1 

In this connection perhaps merely as a curiosity it may 
be mentioned that in ancient Egypt the orthodox fishing-weapon 
of the old kingdom was always the bident. " As this type of 
spear is not seen in the hands of the professional fishermen, 
it must be regarded either as a purely sporting weapon, or as 
inherited by the upper classes from an ancestry whose culture 
in this particular varied from that of the peasantry. " 2 

Morocco. From Morocco (Fez) the Riksmuseum possesses 
a multiple-pointed spear, belonging to the collection acquired 
for the Museum by Major A. Wester in 1907 (PI. XIV, Fig. 34). 
Wester describes the spear as a " sherif -staff, carried as a symbol 
of rank by descendants of the Prophet ". With regard to this 
Professor E. Westermarck was kind enough to send me the 
following interesting information : " When I showed the photo- 
graph of the spear to my old friend Sherif Abd-es-Salam el 
Bakkali he at once recognized it and told me he was the very 
one that bought it for Wester. Spears of this kind were used by 
sherifs with a great reputation for holiness nowadays they do 
not, at any rate, occur in these parts of Morocco especially 
at functions of acting as peace-makers between contending 
parties, or on other important occasions when they, the sherifs, 
were urgently desirous of being obeyed. The sherif then stabbed 
the spear violently into the ground, this being an act in the form 
of what the Moroccan calls l-'ar, which implies a conditional 
curse, i.e. a malediction that would smite the disobedient. 
Sherif Abd-es-Salam's grandfather, who was an important saint, 
possessed a spear of this kind which he used in the manner here 

" Whether this spear is connected with Islam, or pertaining 
to some ancient Berber custom, I do not know/ 1 Westermarck 
adds in his letter to me. With regard to the term 'ar, I would 
refer to his work Ritual and Belief in Morocco (i, 549-551, London, 
1926). In this, he says, inter alia, and gives reasons for his 

1 P. E. Newberry, Agypten als Feld /. anthropologische Forschung. Der alte 
Orient, xxvii, 20, Leipzig, 1928. 

2 O. Bates, " Ancient Egyptian Fishing," Harvard Afr. Studies, i, 244, 
Cambridge, Mass., 1917. 


assertion : " There are, on the contrary, reasons to suppose 
that it has in a large measure an African foundation/' It is 
interesting to note how exactly the use of this Moroccan sherif- 
spear corresponds with the staff of the nogon among the Habe 
people (vide supra). 


I may here add a few more spears although I am unable 
to localize them with certainty. The two-bladed spear (Fig. 35) 
was purchased by Clarke for the Cambridge Museum, and the 
drawing here reproduced he sent to Seligman. Clarke suggests 
that it might originate from Bagirmi. In the blades of the 
Bagirmi spears depicted by Denham, the flat planes are, however, 
parallel. For my part although I have nothing but the drawing 
to judge from I am rather inclined to think that it comes from 
the Bissagos. Firstly, because of the shape of its point, but also 
because the ornamentation presents considerable dissimilarities. 

In the British Museum there are two double-bladed spears, 
with the flat planes parallel, of which Braunholtz has kindly 
sent -me photographs (PI. XIV, Fig. 36, and PI. XV, Fig. 37). 
The first mentioned (No. 1926, 157, socketed, and wrought in one 
piece) belongs to the Peek Collection (purchased from Sir Wilfred 
Peek in 1926), and Braunholtz supposes that it originates from 
Uganda, which I too think very probable. The spear (Fig. 37) 
from the Christy Collection (No. 3915), was collected before 1880 
and is labelled " East Central Africa ". Braunholtz supposes it 
to come from the Sudan, and for my part I would particularize 
this as the White Nile region. 

Father Schulien has sent me photographs of spears in Pont. 
Museo Miss. Ethnol. Lateranense. PI. XV, Fig. 38, shows these 
spears, one of which (No. 3807) is labelled " Nyasaland ", and the 
other (No. 3758) " Kenya " (Kenya Colony ?). They are, however, 
of identically the same type, and therefore must be of the same 
origin. Nothing similar to the ornamentation of their sockets 
is known to me, and it seems foreign to Negro-Africa. If these 
spears were in fact collected in Kenya and Nyasaland, 
respectively, they must have been imported into those parts or 
produced under foreign influence. But in such case, which ? 
Arabian ? Although there are no outward resemblances 
apparent, these spears bring to my mind the type of iron 
" trident " a sort of chief's sceptre which T. Cullen Young 
describes in Man (xxix, 189) from Northern Nyasaland. 

I wish to include here a couple of spears in the Lateran Museum 
(Nos. AF. 4179, 38, 40, PL XVI, Fig. 39), although their locality 

FIG. 37. 

Speai White Nile district ' 
(British Museum, Chnstv Col- 
lection, No. 3915*) 

Chief spear. " Nywfend ", and Kenya" (?) (Latoan Museum, 


(face p. 172 


Wood begins & 
I /continues 57 inches 

FIG. 35. Spear, etched. Bissagos ? (The Cambridge Museum.) 


is definitely stated, viz. Aliwal North in the Cape Colony (south- 
west of Basutoland). I fully agree with Seligman who writes 
that he suspects there may have been a mistake in the labelling 
of these specimens. Father Schulien has been kind enough to 
write to Africa on my behalf and ask for further particulars 
about these spears, and also about those seen in PI. XV, Fig. 38, 
but unfortunately I have not yet received his answer. If, 
contrary to expectation, the data as to these spears should prove 
correct, and they actually are native to Aliwal North, this would 
be very interesting, and then multiple-headed spears may 
probably occur in other parts of South Africa in spite of our 
present ignorance. Should this prove to be the case we should 
therein find another instance of correspondence to add to those 
already existent between culture elements in South Africa and 
North-Eastern Africa. 


And lastly, if we turn to Madagascar, we find at any 
rate in the western portions that spears with more than 
one point were formerly used as symbols of dignity. Among 
the royal relics pertaining to the Sakalava of Bueni, of the 
Majunga district, there are, inter alia, two halberds, nine 
" assegais ", and four tridents. 1 There is further a double- 
bladed spear possessed by the Riksmuseum at Stockholm (PI. XVI, 
Fig. 40) from Tulear, on the south-western coast, that is to say 
from the Sakalava of the farthest south. It was brought by 
Mr. B. Ljungquist, a school-teacher, who informs me that it 
was made by an old native blacksmith on the pattern of an 
old-time model, and that in those days when spears of this 
type were in use they constituted an exclusively royal prerogative. 
The spear was the national weapon in Madagascar, but the French 
made their possession by the natives illegal. Village headmen 
were, however, exempted from this rule and are to this day 
permitted to carry spears as marks of distinction. 

In regard to the Hova I have not succeeded in unearthing 
any information bearing on our subject, but I am nevertheless 
of opinion that we ought not to lose sight of the possibility that 
these multiple-bladed spears may belong to the Malayan (or 
Indian ?) culture elements that are found in Madagascar 
(vide infra). 

Before attempting to draw any conclusions from the material 
collocated above I propose to glance at Asia and Europe, confining 
myself to a few detached instances without any pretentious 
of completeness. 

1 A. van Gennep, Tabou et totemisme du Madagascar, p. 93, Paris, 1904. 

FIG 39. 

Spears, Chief's sceptre. " Aliwal North, Cape Colony " (?) 
(Lateran Museum, Koine.) 

FIG. 40, 

Royal spear, Sakalava Tulear, SW. Madagascar. 
} natural wze. (Riksmuseum, Stockholm ) 

[face p. i 



In ancient South Arabian Sabaean and Minaean inscriptions 
bidents and tridents occur as symbols of lightning. 1 Adad, 
the thunder-god of the Hittites, held in one hand an axe and in 
the other a short-handled trident symbolizing a sheaf of thunder- 
bolts. 2 Assyrian gods are shown with similar tridents as weapons. 
In the same manner we see in Babylonian art lightning repre- 
sented either by a fascine of three flames or by two or three 
zigzag lines joined together in a stalk or handle. In Mylassa, 
in Caria, a coin has been recovered representing a Zeno-Poseidon, 
" originally, it may be supposed, the god of the ocean of the 
heavens but on that account also ruling the oceans of the earth/' 
His attribute is a trident, " vielleicht erst unter griekischen 
Einfluss oder ist etwa der Dreizack des Poseidon als sein 
Attribut nur aus dem Blitz umgedeutet ? " 3 

From the Shevaroy Hills, south-west of Madras, inhabited 
by the Malayali tribe, Mr. Lowenthal, the missionary, describes 
a temple or altar which, among other things, supports three 
stone celts, or cone-shaped stones, and at the side of them a 
trisula (a small iron trident, planted in the ground). Seeing 
that the stones are styled " thunderbolt-stones " and believed 
to have fallen from the skies, the trident associated with them 
may presumably be connected with thunder (lightning). 4 This 
theory is supported by the circumstance that the god Siva, in 
post-Vedic time the successor of the Vedic lightning-god Rudra, 
wields a trisula (Durga also often carries such a one). And this 
we see on coins deriving from Indo-Bactrian kings of the period 
immediately following the time of the birth of Christ (Blinkenburg, 
p. 57). It may be added that " Hindu coins and seals also bore 
symbols which were very numerous and diversified. Besides 
figures of gods and goddesses, the commonest emblems were the 
trident, denoting empire. . . ." 5 

Among weapons reproduced on early Indian sculptures are 
found tridents of various types. 6 The Artillery Museum in 
Paris possesses an Indian bident from the sixth century. 7 As 

1 A. Grohmann, " Gottersymbole u. Symboltierc auf Siiclarabischen Denk- 
malern," Denkschriften K. Akademie d. Wiss. in Wien, Iviii, 1, 19 sq., Wicn, 1915. 

2 E. Meyer, Reich u. Kultur d. Chetiter, p. 67, Berlin, 1914. 

3 E. Meyer, Geschichte des Altertums, 1, 716., Berlin, 1926. See also 
C. Blinkenberg, Tordenvabenet i kultus og folketro, Studier fra sprog-og-oldtids- 
forskning, pp. 45 sq., Kobenhavn, 1909. The English edition of this work (The 
Thunder Weapons in Religion and Folklore, Cambridge, 1911) is not accessible 
to me. 

4 Blinkenberg, p. 15, fig. 1. 

8 S. Geden, in Encycl. of Religion and Ethics., xii, 1436. 

8 W. Egerton, An Illustrated Handbook of Indian Arms, fig. 2, London, 

7 M. Jahns, Entwicklungsgeschichte d. alien Trutzwaffen, p. 267, pi. xxx, 15, 
Berlin, 1899. A. Demmin, Die Kriegeswaffen, p. 149, Gera, 1891. 


a further instance may be added a three-pronged Indian spear 
(serrate) l from the Hedemann Collection in Honolulu. 

As regards Persia I content myself with pointing to two 
veritable show pieces contained in the Moser Collection : one 
" runka " (naiza) and one trident, the head of which closely 
corresponds to the last-mentioned Indian specimens. 2 

In the Dutch East Indies are found spears with three to 
five points, and, as they seem to be very prevalent, I shall restrict 
myself to referring briefly to such of them as, together with notes 
as to their employment, are mentioned in the catalogue of 
the Rijksmuseum at Leiden, which contains illustrations of 
spears of this type with bibliographical references to particulars. 
The Leiden Museum possesses multiple-pointed spears from 
Java (" Prunklanzen ", e.g. from the Sultan of Jokyakarta, 
" Ceremoniallanzen "), 3 Bali (" stuck into the ground when the 
ruler is bathing"), 4 Borneo (" Fiirstliche Lanzen "). 5 Also 
from Palembang, Sumatra, I know of at least one " Prunklanze " 
(" Hoheitszeichen "), with five points. 6 According to Krause 
(op. cit., p. 51), bidents and tridents occur as ceremonial weapons 
in Celebes, and a spear of that type is found in the Berlin Museum 
(No. 1C, 1252). In this connection I wish to mention that 
Seligman has sent me a sketch of a " good Malay (double-bladed) 
spear with good silver mount, from Celebes ", which is to be found 
in the National Museum at Copenhagen. In the Riksmuseum 
at Stockholm there are some fine old specimens of Malay bidents, 
but as no particulars are given as to their employment I here 
pass them by. The spears just referred to or at least a con- 
siderable proportion of them may presumably be looked upon 
as related to Indian cultural influence in Indonesia. 

I would also call to mind the well-known spears, including 
tridents, of Annam 7 and Tonkin. A number of these, from 
Sontai, are found in the Riksmuseum. Even more widely 
known may well be the corresponding class of spears from China, 
of which the Riksmuseum possesses a number of ancient tridents 
of various types (Wulff s Collection) which were used as weapons 
as late as in the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. " Under the names of 
spetum, partisan, ranceur, and military fork," Lane-Fox points 
out, " this class of weapons has been used in China, India, and 

1 Two Indian tridents of similar type with flattened points, and also two 
bidents, are depicted in the photographic album Sammlung dr. Emil Riebeck, 
pi. xvii, Berlin, 1884. 

2 Orientalische Waffen u. Rustungen. Sammlung Henri Moser. Charlotten- 
fels, pi. xxxv, Nos. 660-1, Leipzig, 1912. 

8 Katalog, xi, 209 (figs.), v, 144 (figs.), Leiden, 1909, 1916. 

* Katalog, vii, 81, Leiden, 1912. 

6 Katalog, ii, 298 (fig.), Leiden, 1910. 

J. D. E. Schmeltz, " Indonesische Prunkwaffen," Int. 'Arch. /. Ethnographic, 
iii, 102, Leiden, 1890. 

7 See Int. Arch. f. Ethnographic, iii, 123, pi. viii. 


Europe. They exhibit a great variety of forms, all of which 
are closely connected, and belong to a condition of culture 
corresponding to that of Europe in the Middle Ages." l Some 
of these tridents, at least, hardly appear to have been designed 
for use as weapons. In the catalogue of the Hedemann Collection 
certain Chinese spears of this class are described as " Luan 
Chia, processional halberds ". 

Even among Japanese fighting-spears (yuris) there are some 
which may be described as three-pronged. I have also seen 
statues of Japanese deities provided with a sort of long, trident 

In Korea large iron tridents constitute the symbol of 
kingly power. 2 


As to the occurrence of bidents and tridents in Europe a 
few brief references will here suffice. The trident as an attribute 
of Poseidon-Neptune is of course well known, and was, it may 
be supposed, in its original form a fish-spear (or possibly also a 
lightning- weapon). The trident, or fish-spear, of Neptune, 
Flinders Petrie says, " occurs at Messana before 400 B.C., and 
after that often in Greece and Italy, and is a common type of 
coin, age of Hiero about 250 B.C. It was probably introduced 
by the Greeks into Egypt." 3 At the gladiatorial games in 
ancient Rome the lightly armed retiarii carried a trident (fuscina 
tridens). Tridents were employed as a charm against impotence 
(compare them as symbols of might and power in Asia and 
Africa), and on amulets they figured as a protection against 
the evil eye. 4 

Among war weapons of the fifteenth up to eighteenth centuries 
may be noted the so-called linstocks used by artillerists of the 
eighteenth century, which were partly weapons and partly 
implements, and above all the halbert, the ranceur, and the 
partizan. The two last-mentioned were, however, less weapons 
than insignia of rank (for certain officers and non-commissioned 
officers), and were for that reason correspondingly ornamented. 5 
There is further what the Germans call " Sturmsensen " (the 
English " military fork " ?), a sort of trident which served a 
practical purpose in that the two lateral blades, which were 
concave in their upper edges, were about midway perforated so 

1 Lane-Fox, Catalogue of the Anthropological Collection, S. Kensington Museum, 
p. 122, London, 1877. 

2 Buschan's Volkerkunde, ii, i, 659, Stuttgart, 1923. 

8 W. M. Flinders Petrie, Tools and Weapons, p. 57, London, 1917. 

4 S. Seligmann, Der bose Blick, i, 349, fig., Berlin, 1910. 

5 W. Boeheim, Handbuch der Waffenkunde, Leipzig, 1890. A. Demmin, 
Die Kriegswaffen, Gera, 1891. 


that the weapons could be joined together by means of a pin 
inserted in this perforation. By this means was produced, 
so to speak, a single weapon, and as many soldiers as there 
was room for caught hold of the shafts, and with this 
contraption advanced against the charging foe. 

Lastly, it may be recalled how from ancient times into the 
Middle Ages the spear carried a symbolic significance in Europe. 
It was the distinctive mark of a free-man, in fact such a one was 
simply styled a " lance ". The handing over of a spear 
symbolized investiture into a position of command. 1 


Turning our attention to the general appearance of African 
spears with two or more points, we find that they may be divided 
into two main groups, viz. : 

(1) Where the points are equal in size. As a distinct sub- 
group of these I here cite spears with points in parallel arrange- 
ment, having their two (more exceptionally three) blades set 
side by side (flat planes parallel). The material collocated above 
shows samples of such spears from Bagirmi, Fitri, the Fulani in 
Darfur and Kordofan, Mongalla (Bari ?), the Lur, the Baganda, 
the Lake Leopold II region, and the Congo without specification 
of locality. The distribution of this sub-group appears to be 
of a central, and comparatively concentrated, character, and 
I do not know of its occurrence in Africa west of Lake Chad, 
in the North-East, nor in Asia and Europe. 

(2) With a main point and fairly large lateral points. 
Passing on to the employment of these spears, in ten cases 

we have no information of any kind. Of the remainder the 
greater part as also the staves are symbols of rank for rulers, 
chiefs, high-priests, or other prominent personages. Others, 
including the " rain-spears " and other sacred spears from the 
White Nile region and districts south thereof, possess a religious, 
or at all events magical, significance. In one or two cases they 
are to be looked upon purely as cult objects. Multiple-pointed 
spears used as fighting or hunting weapons seem to occur very 
rarely. (The material adduced in the foregoing includes very 
few cases.) It may therefore be asserted that multiple-pointed 
spears or forked staves in Africa generally constitute symbols of 
rank for temporal or spiritual authority. 

What, then, do these bidents and tridents symbolize ? We 
can find no answer to that question in the literature, or in the 
museum catalogues. The only information I possess is 
Campling 's statement to Schulien regarding- the double-bladed 

1 E. A. Gessler, Die Trutzwaffen d. Karolingerzeit von VIII. bis XL Jahr- 
hundert, Basel, 1908. 


spear of the Uganda king. He is supposed to possess super- 
natural power, and therefore to fight as though he possessed a 
double spear, meaning double force. In the same way the 
high-priests in Uganda used such spears as a sign of their super- 
natural power. In isolated instances it may perhaps be possible 
to infer that the spears or staves in question are symbols of 
lightning (Jewe as the lightning-god among the Ewe of Togo), 
or of the deities of the ocean, the rivers, or of fishing (Jewe as 
the god of fishing ; the goddess Osun among the Yoruba ; the 
spirits Sarikin Rafi and Sarikin Masu of the Hausa ; the 
Makunduchi people, Zanzibar). Although somewhat hesitantly, 
I may suggest another possibility, namely, that the bident 
(trident) in some place or other may symbolize the tree of life. 
According to Berry (op. cit., p. 67), in Sierra Leone the sign of 
the Poro is the inverted Y formed in keloids down the spine 
between the shoulders and branching off towards the ribs. " The 
Y is the symbol of the branch or tree representing resurrection, 
new birth, new life as typified by the ceremony of initiation 
into the life of the tribe performed in the Poro/' 

Finally, there arises spontaneously the question : Is there 
any connection between the different occurrences of these 
multiple-bladed spears and forked staves in their character of 
symbols of authority ? A question of this kind is naturally very 
difficult to answer, especially as it concerns a detached culture 
element which moreover consists of forms of utilitarian objects 
so widely spread as spears and staves. 1 Its distribution is, 
however, so nicely continuous from the Atlantic, via the Sudan, 
to North-Eastern Africa (see map, Fig. 41) that one is easily 
tempted to believe in the possibility of a connection. Undoubtedly 
it appears to me that such connection exists at any rate within 
certain portions of the distribution area : Abyssinia-Kaffa 
appears to form a unit of this kind, the Bahima states another, 
the large states in the Sudan, and the Bakuba together with 
their neighbours, possibly a third and fourth. Although there 
is no positive evidence at hand, and though I do not count 
myself among those who everywhere insist on seeing a connected 
whole in the spread of culture elements, I am nevertheless of 
opinion that such may be the case throughout this distribution 
area. As has come to pass with so many other culture elements, 

1 Along with multiple-headed spears and forked staves, no doubt swords and 
daggers with more than one blade or with the point terminating in lobes ought 
also to be dealt with. I do not, however, include them here, but they have 
been mentioned by Schilde (p. 95), who shows that such objects occur as symbols 
of authority in the Congo. Oric Bates describes a number of short, double- 
bladed swords from Ashanti and Benin, " ceremonial swords used by kings and 
priests for fetish purposes " (Harvard African Studies, ii, 187). Of significance 
similar to multiple-bladed spears are undoubtedly also fasces or bundles of 
one-bladed spears. 



its dissemination has probably followed the high roads through 
the Sudan (and, if so, supposedly in an east-to-west direction), 
and from the White Nile region southwards. 1 If such was the 
case it appears to me probable that it was by Hamites (the 
ancient Egyptians, however, excepted) that these bident and 
trident spears and staves were launched as symbols of authority, 

FIG. 41. 

and that in the first place in the states founded by them. But 
at the same time one cannot altogether disregard the possibility 
of influence from Asia, and perhaps also, here and there, from 

1 At this juncture I again wish to draw attention (in particular that of my 
English readers) to cultural relations pervading the Sudan as pointed out by 
Schilde in his treatise on African symbols of dignity (see p. 179), as well as 
in his study embodied in the publication to the memory of K. Weule : " Ost- 
westliche Kulturbeziehungen im Sudan," In Memoriam Karl Weule, Leipzig, 1929. 




on map 

Tribe or locality 



of points 

Special use 


Woloff .... 
Mandingo .... 



No particulars. 
" For fishing " (?). 


Bissagos .... 



" For fishing " (?). 


Bondu .... 



Badge of office. 


Malinke (Mandingo) 
Fulani (Senegal) . 




Signs of dignity. 
Chief's spear. 


Fulani (Futa Jallon) . 



Ceremonial weapon ? 





Ceremonial weapon ? 


Mendi .... 



Cermonial weapon (?). 


Timne .... 



Used by chiefs. 


Comraendi (Mandingo) 



Badge of office. 


Avikam .... 



Weapon (?). 


Sarafer6 .... 



Ceremonial weapon. 


Habe(Tombo) . 



Attribute of the Hogon. 


Lobi, Nabe, and Kulango 





Atyuti (Togo) 


Sign of dignity. 


Ewe ..... 



Cult object. 


Joruba (Ibadan) . 



Cult object. 


Okrika .... 



Fish spear used for cannibal 



Baba (Cameroon) 



Badge of office. 


Yukun .... 


Cult object. 


Hausa .... 


Kmblem of spirits. 


Kanuri .... 



Weapon (?). 


Gabai (Bornu) 



Weapon (?). 


Fulani (Adamaua) 



No particulars. 


Karnak Logone . 



Chief's ceremonial staff. 


Bagirmi .... 







Parade weapon (?). 


Fulani (Darfur, Kordofan) 


Sultan's spear. 






Rain spear, sign of dignity, 



Lotuko .... 



Rain spear. 


Moru .... 



Hunting weapon. 


Mongala (Bari ?) 



No particulars. 





No particulars. 


Azande .... 



No particulars. 


Mangbetu . 



No particulars. 





The emperor's sign of office. 


Abyssinia . 




Carried by high officials. 
No particulars. 


Gurage .... 



The high priest. 


Somali (Northern) 



No particulars. 


Banyoro .... 



Royal emblem. 


Baganda .... 



The king's and high priest's 





The king's judicial staff. 


Karagwe .... 



Royal emblem. 


Kiziba .... 



" Zauber speer." 






Akamba .... 



Sign of dignity. 


Makunduchi (Zanzibar) 



Carried in exorcising dance. 


Lake Leopold II district 



Sign of dignity. 


Bushongo (Bakuba) 



Sign of dignity. 


Bakete .... 



Sign of dignity. 


Bankutu .... 


Hunting weapon. 


Morocco .... 


Sheriff's spear. 


Aliwal North ? . . . 



Chief's sceptre (?). 


Sakalava, Buoni . 



Sign of dignity. 


Sakalava, Tulcar 



Royal spear. 

Note. The article was handed in to the editors in April, 1932, and this 
accounts for the fact that some publications on the African spears, published 
later or which have become known to the author later, have not been included 
in it. K. G. L. 

April. 1932. 



The similarities linking the cultures of Eurasia and America 
have been repeatedly dealt with. Tylor's essay on the patolli 
game, Boas', Bogoras', and Jochelson's comparison of Old and 
New World folk-tales ; Hatt's study of moccasins ; Thalbitzer's 
comments on Eurasian and American shamanism ; Glover 
Allen's studies of domesticated dogs ; and Hallowell's discussion 
of bear ceremonialism are among the better known contributions 
to this subject, and quite recently Laufer has dealt with the 
same problem. Hallowell's and Laufer 's papers x confront us 
with an impressive array of economic, technological, ceremonial, 
and mythological resemblances, which jointly constitute a 
powerful argument for intensive cultural relations. 

As regards mythology, I feel the cumulative evidence to 
be very strong ; at the same time the data seem to call for 
discriminatory weighing. Not all the parallels cited by the 
Russian authorities, for example, would convince me. We 
must distinguish between mythical concepts and mythical 
narratives ; and of the latter, again, some furnish positive proof, 
others at best the possibility of connection. 

To illustrate this point, I am greatly intrigued by Dr. Laufer 's 
finding the notion of the frog in the moon in Chinese as well as 
in South American folk-lore. While a generation or two ago 
we should have been content to murmur the magic phrase 
"psychic unity of mankind", we now realize that such unity 
underlies all manifestations of both diffusion and independent 
invention, hence is incapable of explaining any specific 
resemblance. Even granted that all peoples " naturally " see 
something in the moon ; why should distinct and remote tribes 
single out the frog from some possible dozens of animals in the 
regional fauna ? Strong, however, as this contention appears, 
it does not suffice for a satisfactory demonstration. I am 
impelled to seek paths of diffusion. The " frog in the moon " 
motif is not merely South American, but occurs likewise in one 
version of the most popular Crow hero myth and is shared by 

1 A. I. Hallowell, " Bear Ceremonialism in the Northern Hemisphere," in 
American Anthropologist, xxviii, 1-175 (esp. 156-163), 1926. B. Laufer, 
" Columbus and Cathay, and the Meaning of America to the Orientalist," in 
Journal of American Oriental Society, li, 87-103 (esp. 99 fif), 1931. 



the Hidatsa, Mandan, Arapaho, and Gros Ventre. 1 The question 
now arises whether we can trace the idea so as to bridge the 
gap between its known occurrences in South America and the 
Plains ; and, on the other hand, whether a roughly continuous 
distribution can be established via Bering Strait, linking the 
Northern Plains with China. In my opinion we are here dealing 
with a wholly legitimate problem but not one in contrast to 
the extreme diffusionists that is solved when it is merely 

For the earth-diver episode in a story of the creation or 
re-creation of the earth the case is stronger. With only such 
lacunae as must be expected from the deficiency of our records 
we can trace it from the Atlantic to the Pacific Coast of North 
America and find it cropping up again in Central Siberia. Inter- 
continental dissemination is indicated. What remains a puzzle 
is how to account for the same incident in Assamese folk-lore. 2 
In other words, can we bridge the span not only between America 
and Asia but between Southern and Northern Asia ? If that 
were possible, we could confidently continue to concentrate our 
attention on Bering Strait as the path for intercontinental 
exchanges and maintain our reserve as to direct maritime inter- 
course between Malayo-Polynesia and South America, although 
I am- not disposed to deny categorically that such may have 
taken place. 

By general consent the magic flight story ranks as a perfect 
example of demonstrable relations between the Old World and 
the New. Even Andrew Lang, normally the protagonist of 
independent parallelism, accepted transmission as the only 
tenable interpretation. The reason for this consensus of opinion 
is clear. The tale in question, while variously combined with 
other narratives, constitutes an integral whole whose parts 
closely correspond in significant detail. We are not confronted 
with a pale abstraction such as " the pursuit of the hero by an 
ogre ", but with a sequence of essentially similar devices by 
which fugitives elude a powerful enemy. Furthermore, the 
distribution is virtually continuous over an immense territory, 
so that here are combined all the criteria by which contact 
can be sanely inferred. 

Leaving the subject of mythology as having already received 
considerable, though certainly not too much attention, I will 
turn to other phenomena. 

Dr. Halloweirs researches are to my mind quite convincing 
as to the historical unity of Eurasiatic and American bear 
ceremonial and ideology. The fantastic belief that bears subsist 

1 R. H. Lowie, " Myths and Traditions of the Crow Indians " in Anthrop. 
Papers, Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., xxv, 12, 52, 1918. 

Idem, " Zur Verbreitung der Flutsagen," in Anthropos, xxi, 615 ., 1926. 


throughout hibernation by sucking their paws is found in the 
eighteenth-century literature on the Lapps, the Kamchadal, 
and the Atlantic Coast Indians, and has been more recently 
discovered among various Algonkian groups, as well as among the 
Ainu. More widely spread we encounter such features as 
the eschewing of the generic term for " bear " in speaking of 
the beast, with the indispensable development of some 
euphemistic synonym. Kinship terms are common in this 
connection, e.g. the Penobscot, Yukaghir, and Yakut refer to 
the bear as " grandfather ". Finally, the conciliatory speeches 
made to the animal before killing it and the post-mortem rites 
especially the disposal of the skulls may be traced from the 
Atlantic coast of America to Western Siberia. The cumulative 
evidence adduced by Hallowell, in fact, warrants even a more 
positive inference as to diffusion than is suggested by his own 
cautious formulation. 

At the same time, a subsidiary result of Hallowell's discussion 
may be stressed because it has not received the attention it 
deserves. Contrary to expectation, the most striking 
resemblances as to Siberian bear beliefs and usages occur not 
among the most westerly Americans but among the northern 
and north-eastern Algonkians. 1 Can it be sheer accident that 
in this very area flourish the typically Asiatic practices of 
scapulimancy and scrying ? 

Leaping from one marginal region to another, I should like 
to suggest that some specialist on the Lapps should survey Lapp 
culture regarding its affinities with North America. I am, of 
course, aware that specific features have been dealt with by 
Tylor (stone-boiling), 2 Hatt (foot-gear), Thalbitzer, Hallowell, 
and others. What I am suggesting is a systematic collection of 
all relevant data, having regard also to the intervening Asiatic 
region. In order to stimulate such an inquiry, I will list relevant 
traits that have come to my notice, including for the purpose 
a few material traits as well as elements of social and religious life. 

The resemblance of one type of Lapp tent to the conical 
dwelling of Northern Canada is as unmistakable as that of the 
Yukaghir tent to both. An old missionary describes a Lapp 
reindeer battue that immediately suggests the North American 
method of impounding large game. 3 Lapp women give birth 
standing or kneeling, 4 the latter being also customary among 
Assiniboine (Denig), the Crow, and Hidatsa, and presumably 

1 Hallowell, op. cit., p. 154. 

2 Tylor's quotation from Linnaeus' Lapland Tour (Researches into the Early 
History of Mankind, 1865, p. 267) credits the Finns of East Bothland with stone- 

3 Castre'n, Reiseerinnerungen aus den Jahren, 1838-1844, pp. 44 f., St. Peters- 
burg, 1853. 

4 E. Demant (ed.), Das Buck des Lappen Johan Turi, 1912, p. 22. 


other American tribes. The Lapps do not take a corpse out 
of the door, but lift the cover wherever the body may lie so as 
to create an exit. 1 This taboo is common in America, occurring, 
for example, among the Crow and Ojibwa. In Scheffer's book 
there are several illustrations of Lapp tambourines that strongly 
suggest the Eskimo and Eastern Algonkian style of pictography. 2 
Here, though a direct connection seems out of the question, we 
should remember that realistic representation is by no means 
universal among primitive peoples ; and that even crude styles 
of realism may be distinctive. What I should consider possible 
in this case is the persistence over a wide Arctic and sub-Arctic 
area of an ancient pictographic tradition. 

More striking are the Lapp taboos for women. The exclusion 
of women from sacred localities, as well as their disabilities as 
to touching a drum or making an offering, strongly remind us 
of the Plains Indian attitude as to medicine bundles, and 
Scheffer explicitly states the reason : " Die Ursache warumb sie 
von diesen heiligen Oertern die Weibsbilder abtreiben, scheint 
wohl keine sonsten zu seyn, als dass sie selbe zu gewissen Zeiten 
unrein zu seyn schatzen." 3 Again, the ominous influence of 
the female sex was recognized with reference to the chase in 
a manner rather reminiscent of our Northern Athabaskans. 
Thus, the rear door by which Lapp hunters brought in game 
was tabooed to women, and no woman was allowed to touch 
a caught game animal. 4 A menstruating woman was not 
supposed to step over her husband's feet or gun, nor to go 
where fishermen usually exposed their catch, nor to milk cows. 5 
In North America there is often a close parallelism between 
the observances of menstruation and of child-birth. It is 
therefore of interest to find that a Lapp woman in confinement 
stays either in a special hut or at least a special division thereof ; 
there she is only permitted to eat a little food and may drink 
nothing but water. 6 

Feminine disabilities based on menstrual superstitions are 
of course not peculiar to North America and Lapland. But 
their intensity in Lapland, as well as some of the details cited, 
are indicative of something more than mere accident. 

A detail that may or may not be significant is the change of 
an ailing Lapp child's name, 7 a very common Indian custom. 

Overshadowing all these features because of its prominence 

1 Demant, op. cit., p. 81. 

a Joannis Schefferi von Strassburg, Lappland . . . , Frankfurt a.M. und Leipzig, 
p. 140, 1675. 

8 Op. cit., pp. 115, 122, 148. * Ibid., pp. 101 f., 223, 275. 

5 Knud Leems, " An Account of the Laplanders of Finmark . . . ," in John 
Pinkerton's General Collection of the Best and Most Interesting Voyages and 
Travels in all Parts of the World (i, 376-490), p. 483, 1808. 

8 Edgar Reuterskiold, De nordiske Lapparnas Religion, p. 59, 1912. 

7 Ibid., p. 65. Leems, op. cit., p. 483. 


in native thought is the phenomenon of shamanism. Both 
Thalbitzer and Laufer have called attention to significant 
Eurasiatic-American resemblances. The latter stresses the 
association of the shaman with the tambourine ; the Danish 
scholar points out that Lapps, Siberians, and Eskimo practise 
divination by lifting a weight, while Eskimo and Central Asiatic 
Turks share the characteristic cosmic excursion by the officiating 
shaman. 1 While space limitations prevent anything like a full 
discussion, I should like to call attention to several other traits 
that seem to link together our three major areas. 

In Siberia the typical way of becoming a shaman is through 
a call by the spirits, whom the beneficiary accepts as helpers 
often with distinct reluctance. This is in marked contrast to 
the normal Plains, Woodland, and Plateau practice of deliberately 
seeking a supernatural protector. But, as Dr. Benedict showed 
long ago, the Siberian attitude appears rather markedly on or 
near the Pacific coast of America, and it certainly existed to 
some extent in Lapland, where spirits might threaten to tear 
a man into little bits if he spurned their proffered aid. 2 The 
Lapp visionary was taught a song by his visitant often in the 
guise of a bird or a beast as in many American tribes ; as among 
the Eskimo, the shamans used a distinctive language (ett slags 
rotvalske) ; soul-kidnapping was the dominant theory of 
disease, as among many Siberians as well as in American tribes 
of the Pacific region and in that northern and north-eastern 
region that seems specially linked with Siberia ; and the tricks 
practiced by shamans included playing freely with fire, as among 
such tribes as the Fox and the Menomini. 3 

If the majority of these resemblances were due to psychic 
unity, we should expect to find as much in common between 
shamanism in Lapland and the Gold Coast as between the Lapp 
and the North- East American phenomena, but this is contrary 
to fact. Indeed, the adhesion of the tambourine to shamanism, 
which is obviously wholly arbitrary, suffices to mark out the 
unitary character of Eurasiatic-North American shamanism. 
Combining all the traits enumerated with those listed by 
Dr. Hallowell in his discussion of bear ceremonialism, we may 
regard the area indicated as forming one gigantic unit from the 
angle of religious belief. 

On this theory we should naturally expect more intimate 
relations between relative neighbours than between remote 

1 Laufer, op. cit., pp. 99 f. ; Wm. Thalbitzer, " Die kultischen Gottheiten der 
Eskimos," in Archiv fur Religionsivissenschaft, xxvi, 364-430 (esp. 421, 427). 
Cf. Reuterskiold, p. 53 ; Scheffer, p. 129 (on divination by lifting). 

2 Reuterskiold, pp. 92 f. 

8 Gustaf von Duben, Om Lappland och Lapparne, foretrddesvis de Svenske ; 
ctnografiske Studier, pp. 271 sq., 1873. ReuterskiSld, pp. 65 f. ; Leems, p. 478 ; 
Scheffer, p. 136. 


members of the total region defined. This corollary can, I think, 
be easily established. Thus, the tambourine is indeed closely 
connected with shamanizing throughout, but less specifically 
among Indian tribes than in Lapland, Siberia, or among the 
Eskimo. It sometimes even passes from the ceremonial into 
the purely secular sphere, as when I saw it beaten by Chipewyan 
Indians (Lake Athabaska) attending a gambling-game. Again, 
to mention but a few other features, a Chukchee shaman will 
shake his sleeping-room, loosen himself from his bonds, after 
being tied hand and foot, and practice ventriloquism. 1 I do 
not find these particular tricks recorded for the Lapps ; on the 
other hand, tent-shaking, Houdinism, and ventriloquism occur 
among the Cree, Saulteaux, and even Cheyenne. 2 

In conclusion, I should like to point to a most intriguing 
problem, the distribution of the vapour-bath. I am aware of 
the occurrence of sudatories in Hawaii and South Africa, and 
Baron Nordenskiold has called attention to a South American 
occurrence. But the similarities between relevant North 
American and Finnish-Scandinavian practices are too striking 
to be ignored. Thus, a traveller through Northern Europe in 
1681 describes apparently Finnish peasants as heating stones in 
the centre of a bath-house, throwing water on top, switching 
themselves to open their pores, and then dashing from these 
" fiery baths " into an extremely cold river. 3 Troels- 
Lund gives an equally graphic picture of sixteenth-century 
Scandinavians. 4 Compare this with Erman's observations 
among the Tlingit : some ten men were indulging in a vapour- 
bath in November, singing and shaking rattles ; then, with 
perspiration dripping from them they dashed into the icy sea 
nearby. 5 The Crow even switched themselves with scourges 
of horse-tails, buffalo tails, or sagebrush. 6 So far I have failed 
to find descriptions linking these occurrences in Northern Europe 
and North America by way of Siberia. It is clear that we must 
rely mainly on Russian scholars to supply the deficiency in our 

1 W. Bogoras, " The Chukchee " (Memoirs Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., xi : 
Jesup Expedition, vii), pp. 434 sq., 439, 448, 1907. 

2 A. B. Skinner, " Notes on the Eastern Cree and Northern Saulteaux " 
(Anthrop. Papers, American Museum, ix), pp. 66 f., 153, 1911. George Bird 
Grinnell, The Cheyenne Indians, ii, 113-17. 

8 M. Regnard, " A Journey through Flanders, Holland, etc." : John 
Pinkerton, op. cit., i, 157, 1808. 

4 Troels-Lund , Dagligt Liv i Norden i del 16^ A arhundrede ; Bonder og Kjobstad- 
boliger, pp. 320-2 (Copenhagen, 1880). 

6 Aurel Krause, Die Tlinkit-Indianer, p. 166, 1885. 

* R. H. Lowie, " The Religion of the Crow Indians," Anthrop. Papers, Amer. 
Mus. Nat. Hist., xxv, 430, 1922. 

University of California, 
Berkeley, Cal. 



In contributing this essay to Professor Seligman's Festschrift, 
I should like once more to express not only my personal indebted- 
ness to his work and influence, but also the obligation of modern 
anthropology to his pioneering researches in Melanesia and 
elsewhere. I am choosing here a subject which lies to a certain 
extent outside my own sphere of interests, since it is mainly techno- 
logical ; but it is one on which Professor Seligman's researches 
have given us a mass of valuable information, and I trust that 
the few additional notes which I am able to furnish will be found 
to supplement this still further. 

Professor Seligman was the first to determine the civilization 
of the Northern Massim, that is, to describe their social organiza- 
tion, their arts, crafts, and pursuits, and place them within the 
geographical area of Papuo-Melanesian cultures. At the present 
time there is one aspect in the material culture which has been 
profoundly affected under contact. These representatives of 
the polished stone age are no longer using implements of polished 
stone in their industrial pursuits. But the tradition is still 
very much alive, and it is possible to determine some of the main 
types of their implements as well as to describe their main uses. 
Professor Seligman has given us an account of the site from 
which the material used for stone implements in the Northern 
Massim area and over a much wider range, had been obtained. 1 
From his first-hand researches he was able to establish that 
in the whole of eastern New Guinea there was only one place 
where this material was quarried, and that was at Suloga on 
Muruwa or Woodlark Island. "The Suloga adze blades were 
formerly traded from hand to hand for many hundreds of miles 
passing westwards at least as far as the Papuan Gulf, while on 
the north coast of the Possession they are found to the west of 
Cape Nelson/' (M.B.N.G., p. 15.) 

Professor Seligman also pointed out the fundamental distinc- 
tion made by the natives between the adze and axe blades manu- 
factured for use on the one hand, and the ceremonial blades. 
" Both kinds of stones passed into trade via Tubetube to some 

1 C. G. Seligman and W. M. Strong, " Anthropological Investigations in 
British New Guinea," Geographical Journal, 1906, pp. 348 sqq. The fullest 
information, however, will be found in Professor Seligman's book, The Melanesians 
of British New Guinea, Cambridge, 1910, the standard work on the area. This book 
will be referred to in this article as M.B.N.G. 



extent, but far the greater number of those exported from 
Muruwa travelled westwards to the Marshall Bennets and the 
Trobriands whence they were carried to the Amphlett and 
D'Entrecasteaux groups and so launched on their course . . . ." 
(M.B.N.G., pp. 530-1.) Professor Seligman's most valuable 
descriptions of the trade of these blades and their distribution, 
which will be found in chapters xl and xlix, require no 
further remarks. But I should here like to add a brief survey of 
what happens to the axe blades when they arrive in the Trobriand 
Islands, where the stone quarried at Suloga was the only material 
available for cutting, planing, scraping out, or chiselling. 

Petrologically, the material has been kindly examined at 
my request by Dr. E. W. Skeats, Professor of Geology at the 
University of Melbourne, and found to be of volcanic origin. 
The harder and more homogeneous specimens are consolidated 
volcanic augite andesite ash or tuff. The bands of lighter 
colour are not the result of a lava-flow structure, but due to 
somewhat irregular bedding of the volcanic ash. Some specimens, 
of smaller specific gravity and less homogeneous, are from basaltic 
rocks (more strictly, olivine andesite) due to lava flow. 

Since this stone had to be imported from a distance of over 
sixty .miles, and since it was used up in the course of ordinary 
work, the objects manufactured from it were scarce and highly 
priced. The rarity of this material and the fact that in some 
specimens it exhibited the streaks of lighter colour, which 
appealed to the natives' artistic sense, resulted in some blades 
being worked out for purely aesthetic reasons and becoming 
nothing but objects of condensed wealth. Such stones attained 
the highest value among all objects of wealth, surpassing even 
the large arm-shells and the necklaces made of spondylus shell. 
But it would be difficult to express their value in terms of 
exchange, because unlike the other articles of value, they were 
not traded. The biggest stone blades in fact were considered 
as heirlooms (vegutdbula) and definitely attached to one lineage. 
The stones, on the other hand, used for practical purposes, were 
often traded, and an ordinary small working stone would be 
readily exchanged for one or two basketfuls of taytu. 


Let us see how the implements are made, used, and handled. 
First of all, the stones were roughly hewn and chipped into 
shape at the quarry. They were imported into the Trobriand 
archipelago from the east in this form, as we can see from 
specimens 2, 3, and 5 on Plate LXIV of M.B.N.G., here re- 
produced. The polishing was always done in the Trobriands. 
There some articles received the almost complete polish, such 



(Reproduced /raw Plate LXIl', M.B.N.G., with the kind permission of Profestor 
Sdigman and the Cambndgf Press) 

[facep iqo 


as we see on specimen 4 of our Plate ; in others only the cutting 
edge was polished, as' can be seen in the cases of i, 6, 7, and 8. 

The Trobrianders were and are daring sailors. They use 
for their overseas expeditions large built-up canoes, while 
for fishing and lagoon transport they have smaller craft. But 
the main part of each canoe consists of a substantial tree-trunk. 
In order to obtain such a dug-out, they have to fell a large tree. 
In the pre-iron days this was done by means of a large stone 
blade (utuviya) which was inserted into a large handle shaped 
like an axe ; that is, the blade was placed in the plane of striking. 
Specimen 2 on Plate LXIV (M.B.N.G.) represents such a large 
blade. As can be seen from it, a felling axe blade was relatively 
narrow ; it was thick and substantial almost to its cutting edge. 
Trees of a smaller size had often to be felled in order to prepare 
stout logs for the yam-houses, planks for yam-house flooring 
or for canoe gunwales, and boards used in the construction of 
houses. For such purposes a smaller and wider type of axe blade 
would be used of which Nos I, 5, and 7 are good representatives. 

After a tree was felled it was necessary to hew it all round 
in order to give it the required shape, whether that of a canoe, 
of a round log, or of a flat board. For this another type of blade 
was necessary, less stout, of course, and less heavy, with a straight, 
thin, cutting edge. Such blades, called kasivi, were always 
inserted into an adze-handle in which the cutting plane of the 
blade was placed at right angles to the striking plane of the 
implement. Specimen 6 on the Plate represents a typical kasivi. 

Another implement was needed for the task of scraping out 
the inside of a dug-out. Here the blade had to be much stouter 
as the worker had to hew with a fair impetus ; it had also to 
be less broad. No. 3 represents such a blade called havilali. 
On the Plate this is in an unfinished state ; the edge would still 
have to be sharpened and polished before use. With such a 
blade a man had to scoop out convex sides in the log, and thus 
to cut both transversely, as one cuts with an adze, and in the 
plane of cutting, as is done when cutting with an axe, and of 
course also at any other angle. These uses were provided for 
by an implement in which the blade was set in a wooden mount 
which in turn could be moved within the handle. It was thus an 
axe and adze and an intermediate striking implement combined. 

Both in the making of a canoe and of a house and yam- 
house, 1 there arises frequently the need for cutting out holes and 

1 For excellent photographs of a native house in the Trobriands, a group of 
yam-houses and beautiful detail showing the logs in a yam-house, see Plates 
LXXV-VII, M.B.N.G. There also the various structural elements can be seen. A 
detailed description of the technology in the structure of the yam-house will 
be found in my new book on Trobriand agriculture, presently to appear under 
some such title as " Coral Gardens and their Magic ", where the agriculture and 
certain economic aspects of Trobriand civilization will be described. 


grooves. For this a thin, sharp, and at the same time fairly 
stout, chisel implement was used called ginesosu. Specimen 4 
in Professor Seligman's photograph represents this blade. Since 
such an implement had to be fixed rather firmly into its handle, 
it was usually polished along a wider surface than the bigger 
blades. For cutting away small scrub when the soil was cleared 
for gardens, small and thin blades with a rather long cutting edge 
were used. They did not greatly differ from the one described 
above as kasivi and usually consisted of planing blades worn out 
by long use. They were named by the generic term for blade, 
kema or utukema, utu- being the prefix for " cutting ". No. 6, 
if you imagine it worn out to about half its length, would be a 
good specimen of such a blade. They were inserted in axe- 
shaped or adze-shaped handles indiscriminately. 

At present all these implements have been superseded by 
European-made steel or iron, and the change has taken place some 
two or three generations ago. The natives now use invariably 
the European-made axe-handle, but they still employ the old 
handles for the shafting of the adze blades (ligogu) and for the 
shafting of their planing blade (kaylalari). But although they 
have adopted European material, they use it in very much 
the same manner in which they must have used the old stone 
blades. They cut, plane, and scoop out by means of exceedingly 
weak and exceedingly numerous strokes, thus working very 
slowly nibbling the material away. This makes it clear how 
they were sometimes able to work very hard wood with relatively 
brittle and blunt stone blades, mounted in frail handles, and 
secured only by binding with rattan strips. In fact, even now, 
their iron blades are stuck so loosely in their handles 
that, without difficulty, one can remove the blade from almost 
any implement one takes up. To use such a tool is only possible 
if the worker never puts too much strain upon it, and if each 
stroke is made with great precision and dexterity. In olden 
days they probably worked even more precisely and slowly than 
now. Again, even thus, it was often necessary to re-sharpen 
a blunted or broken blade, and when important work was being 
done, there was, for each cutter or planer, another man or two 
sharpening refill blades. 


As the stone material for the blades was hard to obtain and 
suitable for elaboration into a fine shape and beautiful polish, the 
implements were of great value and were, therefore, displayed 
and used as ornaments. This was especially" the case with the 
adzes (ligogu), which were, and are, carried over the shoulder. 
This is done by all natives who have reached mature age, and 


one seldom sees a man of rank and influence, especially during 
feasts and ceremonies, without a ligogu over his shoulder. 
Nowadays a steel blade takes the place of the ancient greenstone. 1 

The handle of an adze is worked out with great care ; it is 
shaped into really beautiful harmonious lines, and it is polished 
all over and often decorated with carvings. In olden days, 
men of rank would have fine, streaked, well-polished blades of 
the planing type (kasivi) inserted in their handles. Thus, even 
ordinary working-tools were and are used as ornaments. 

This fact makes it much easier to understand the existence 
and raison d'etre of the so-called ceremonial axe blades. In 
order to make this point still clearer, it may be advisable to make 
a digression and venture on a hypothesis of the probable origins 
of ceremonial stone blades. 

As has been said, ordinary working tools are used even now, 
for ornamentation and display, and as a sign of dignity and social 
position. This state of affairs must have existed since a very 
remote period. Now, the natives have a pronounced tendency 
in all their technological achievements to go beyond the strict 
limits imposed by practical use. They are influenced by vanity, by 
the passion of display, of eclipsing one's neighbour and 
provoking his envy. Both producer and consumer like to make 
or acquire an article which is strikingly big, or strikingly well- 
finished, or of a strikingly fine material, even though in the 
process the article were to become unwieldy, breakable, and good 
for nothing else but display. This feature of native psychology 
could be paralleled by typical examples of technological 
hypertrophy in the manufacture of native pottery, wooden 
bowls, walking-sticks, ear-rings, necklaces, indeed in almost 
every class of article useful or ornamental ; they try to produce 
them of such good material, so well ornamented, so bulky, or 
so minute (e.g. turtle-shell ear-rings) that they become useless, 
even as ornaments. 

In the case of stone implements, these become so well-finished, 
so large, so thin and streaked and well-polished, that they are 
too good to be used technically, too big even to be carried as every- 
day ornaments, though they might still be placed in specially 
beautiful handles and carried by a man of rank during a ceremony. 
Even to-day there are a few occasions, but very few indeed, 
on which a man may be seen carrying over his shoulder a small 
non-usable blade inserted into a ceremonial handle small enough 
to be carried. This is the case, for instance, during certain 
magical ceremonies in the gardens, as we can see on the Plate 
here reproduced. 

As already mentioned only small ceremonial blades and handles 

i Compare Plates XV, LXIV, LXXI, in my Sexual Life of Savages, 1929, and 
Plate XXVII of Argonauts of the Western Pacific, 1922. 


can be used for this. But ceremonial blades of really high value 
for the natives cannot be worn even on public ceremonial 
occasions. We must imagine them again as the product of this 
intense craving for the plus ultra, for the extreme in size, quality, 
and finish, which governs native production and the native 
conception of value. 

We may appear to have been making a hypothetical digression 
into the past but, in reality, we have simply projected into an 
imaginary past the results of certain psychological forces which 
we can still see at work perfectly well in the present time. 

Let us now try to introduce some order into this apparent con- 
fusion ; some of the usable blades were made of exceptionally good 
material and with a specially fine finish and worn as objects of 
value and ornaments. I think that in olden days even they 
would have been very seldom actually put to practical use since 
they were very valuable. There was, however, a sharp line of 
distinction between such small ornamental blades and handles, 
and blades which were of a size, shape, and quality which put 
them entirely out of range of any practical employment. Both 
were vaygu'a (valuables). The usable ones would be called 
kasivi (planing-blade) or ligogu (adze blade) ; the ceremonial 
ones were called by one term and one term only beku. The 
beku were provided purely for purposes of ornamentation with 
large unwieldy handles of a merely ceremonial type. Professor 
Seligman has reproduced on his Plates LXI and LXII the two types 
of ceremonial handles. The first (LXI) corresponds in its 
distribution mainly to the Southern Massim area, though it is 
found also in the Trobriands. The second (LXII) was manufactured 
exclusively in the Trobriands, mainly in the district of Tilataula. 
It is a handle of this type that we can see, on the Plate here 
reproduced, 1 in actual use during a garden ceremony. The very 
large blades were so broad at the base that they could not be 
inserted even in the biggest ceremonial handle in existence. 
Each blade had, however, a large companion handle which was 
regarded as its counterpart and on occasions of ceremonial 
display would be placed immediately against it. 

The large " ceremonial " blades or, as we might call them 
more appositely, tokens of value, have then no technological 
use whatever ; neither can they be worn over the shoulder as 
ornaments. None the less, they play an extremely important 
part in the economic and social life of the natives. Alongside 
with big arm-shells and shell-made necklaces, but surpassing 
both these articles in value, the stone blades form the indis- 
pensable adjunct of wealth and consequently of social power. 
In the Trobriand Islands, social life was largely built on the 
power wielded and the functions exercised by the chiefs. They 

1 From Plate LIX, Argonauts of the Western Pacific. 






were the leaders in war, organizers ef big feasts, masters of 
the gardens, leaders of overseas trading expeditions, and super- 
visors of economic magic which controlled to a certain extent 
public life and production. To do this, the chiefs had mainly 
to rely on their wealth, which they possessed in form of stored 
food and of tokens of value. On every big social occasion 
war, magical ceremony, mortuary festival, trading expedition 
the chief had to pay by distributing goods among the most 
important actors. Thus wealth, and more especially wealth 
in condensed form, was at the basis of the chief's power, and 
thus of social order. This latter was safeguarded again by the 
fear of sorcery, which, in the Trobriands was the means of 
punishing crime and injustice and enforcing the chief's will, 
as well as the means of less lawful transactions. But, on the 
whole, as sorcery had to be paid for in tokens of value, it was 
mainly at the chief's disposal and followed the chief's will. 
Whether it was thus used for right or wrong in the moral sense, 
it certainly was used to safeguard the existing order of things 
and thus made for law and order such as they exist in a native 

A man who owned a big stone blade or a number of them, 
acquired ipso facto power. Of course the chief would see to it 
that no commoner acquired too many tokens of value, that is, 
too much influence the fear of sorcery or direct violence was 
there to prevent any serious shifting of economic power. 

There were several classes of condensed wealth or tokens of 
value. But and this is important in the present context 
the only class actually produced in the central districts of the 
Trobriands, where political chieftainship was well developed, were 
the large axe blades, imported from Suloga as enormous kukumali, 
so big at times that it was difficult for one man to lift them. 
They were chipped and polished in the districts of Tilataula 
and Kiriwina. There were about half a dozen specialists who 
would spend days, weeks, and months over one blade. The 
chief was the only man allowed to import large blades, and he 
was also the man who by sending regular gifts of food to the 
specialist kept him going on the work. The production of 
polished axe blades was in the Central Trobriands the main 
process by which accumulated food was transformed into an 
object of condensed wealth and thus made available for purposes 
for which it would have been useless in the form of perishable 

When I speak of the chief, I mean that this privilege was in the 
first place vested in the Paramount Chief of Kiriwina, who 
resided at Omarakana. With his consent, however, chiefs of 
a lesser rank were also allowed to import and produce ceremonial 
axe blades. Through the many opportunities which the chief 


had of giving presents in these valuables, a great number of 
them found their way into the possession of lesser men. The 
biggest and most valuable of them remained as heirlooms in 
the lineage of the chief ; in that of his junior kinsmen, that is, 
chiefs of rank belonging to the junior lineages of the Tabalu 
sub-clan ; and in the hands of one or two important notables, 
such as the headman of Kabwaku, who was the Paramount 
Chief's hereditary rival. 1 

The owner would, on certain rare occasions, display the 
blades. Thus, once a year, everyone would exhibit the valuables 
he owned and offer them to the spirits of the departed, which, 
at that season, were supposed to visit the village. Again, when 
distant friends or strangers from afar came on a visit, they 
would be shown the tokens of wealth. During certain mortuary 
ceremonies the stone blades are also displayed. As a rule they 
are well hidden away, often buried in the ground for fear of theft. 

So deep is the attachment of the natives to wealth and tokens 
of wealth that a dying man is covered with his valuables and 
his relatives comfort and strengthen him by rubbing axe blades 
against his chest and belly. The departed spirit then carries 
the spiritual essence of the tokens into the other world and 
offers them to the keeper of the spirits' road. (Cf. Argonauts of 
the 'Western Pacific, Plate LXV ; see also pp. 679 and 733 of 

The reader who, to refresh his memory, peruses the chapters 
and pages in Professor Seligman's book devoted to the subject, will 
recognize how completely the facts which I have observed and 
noted in some villages of the interior of the Trobriands lit in with 
his own data collected over a much wider area. In devoting 
this article to technology and allowing myself to indulge in a 
distinctly antiquarian, but I trust not merely imaginary, 
reconstruction, I have tried to render my tribute even more 
personal and discriminate. 

1 For a fuller statement of some of the economic conditions in the Trobriands 
and the relations between production, distribution, and political power, the 
reader is asked to consult the forthcoming book already referred to. 


In the fifth chapter of Miss Jane Harrison's Themis, which 
sets out to deal with the triple subject of totemism, sacrament, 
and sacrifice, the central interest of the treatment is revealed 
in the appended quotation, " 'What meanest thou by this word 
Sacrament ? ' " Starting from the omophagia, or eating of raw 
flesh, that survived in Greek ritual of the Dionysiac order, 
Miss Harrison professes her physical abhorrence of such a crude 
proceeding, but promises that our normal repugnance will 
disappear when the gist of the rite is understood. Thereupon 
she tries to prove that the omophagia was, in its primary intention, 
neither a sacrifice pleasing to a personal god, nor a sacrament 
in which communion with such a god was brought about. 
Originally, she argues, the rite in question was " part of a system 
of sanctities that knew no gods ", belonging as it did to a " social 
organization, namely totemism, that preceded theology ". She 
goes on to show, here echoing Durkheim, that totemism essentially 
embodies a collective form of experience, being based on the 
supposed relation between a human and some other natural 
group, such as typically an animal species. This relation, as 
she is able to prove from the Australian evidence, is explicitly 
conceived by the totemite as a kind of identity. " That one 
is just the same as me/' says the kangaroo-man of his eponymous 
animal. She might also have cited his even more telling phrase 
that the kangaroo is " all-one-flesh " with him. Now flesh, 
together with the accompanying and even more mysterious 
blood, may well stand for kinship, more especially when considered 
in what was presumably its earliest form, the tie between mother 
and child founded on a real, and not merely symbolic, community 
of flesh and blood. Miss Harrison, however, is more immediately 
interested in the blood-relationship imputed to the namesake 
animal or plant. Now this is clearly a symbolic or non-literal 
connection, even if we make all allowance for the tendency of 
the savage mind to " confuse its categories ", as the late 
Professor Hobhouse puts it or, let us say less technically, to 
blur its distinctions. Paying attention chiefly to one type of 
totemic rite, the so-called Intichiuma ceremony for the multiplica- 
tion of the totem, she interprets it as an attempt on the part 
of the human group to realize their oneness with the animal 
group ; the dawning consciousness of a difference between them 


i 9 8 R. R. MARETT 

being transcended in such an effort to bridge the gulf and lose 
themselves in a higher unity, a wider communion. Hence she 
terms such a rite, for all that it takes the form of a dramatic 
representation of the desired identity, " methectic " rather 
than " mimetic ". In other words, instead of imitating some- 
thing external and to that extent alien, they seek direct participa- 
tion in a consubstantial nature that is thus not theirs and theirs 
at once and together. So far, then, as participation prevails 
over imitation in other words, so far as undifferentiated 
thinking and group-emotion predominate we may have 
sacrament and even sacrifices, but the net result is only a kind 
of magic. For Miss Harrison defines magic as " the manipulation 
of mana ", which, according to her conception of it, is itself 
an undifferentiated kind of power or grace proceeding from 
sacred things in general. Religion, on the other hand, in her 
view implies worship, which can only be towards a power invested 
with a separate and distinctive being of its own in a word, a 
" god ". Let this brief account of Miss Harrison's general 
position suffice ; though the by-paths through which she wanders 
while finding her way to these conclusions are such as to defy 
summary notice. 

Now what I am about to say is not meant as an attack on 
Miss Harrison's views, if only because in many respects I agree 
with her line of thought, and simply desire to suggest sundry 
modifications of the main argument. These are the more 
necessary because so much fresh evidence has accumulated since 
Themis was written that is to say, in the course of the last 
twenty years. On one major issue only do I definitely disagree ; 
and, since it is largely a question of nomenclature, I had better 
clear up the matter at once, lest an unacknowledged difference 
of terminology lead to misunderstanding later on. I need 
hardly say that the stumbling-block consists in the familiar 
puzzle how to draw the line between magic and religion. Now 
Miss Harrison appears to me to be trying to run both with the 
hare and with the hounds. Sir James Frazer may be taken to 
represent the hare, while I can claim for myself a humble place 
in the pursuing pack. Thus on the one hand she accepts the 
Frazerian view that there is no religion until there is propitiation 
of a personality with superhuman attributes a conception of 
religion that appears to me to be based on the principle, 
" Orthodoxy is my doxy." On the other hand, by connecting 
sacrament with magic, she deprives religion of one of its chosen 
instruments ; unless it is possible as I do not think it is to hold 
that magical bottles are suitable for preserving religious wine 
in all its integrity. Probably she is here following the lead, 
not of Sir James Frazer, but rather of Robertson Smith, the 
foremost pioneer in regard to all these questions ; for he was 


ready to class magic as just that early stage of religion when ritual 
seems all-sufficient because its motives remain subconscious. 
Indeed, Sir James Frazer was content to accept this opinion 
when he started to write The Golden Bough. Only in the second 
edition did he take the fatal step of dissociating magic altogether 
from religion on the strength of an erroneous psychology that 
identified the former with a kind of sham science founded on 
the abuse of analogy as if the same could not be said by its 
detractors of the most advanced theology. Miss Harrison, 
however, shows no sign of postulating an age of magic separated 
from the age of religion by a hiatus that is logical or chronological 
as you please. On the contrary, her rather inconsistent language 
would imply that magic is religion at its pre-theological stage ; 
and she actually describes a system of sanctities that knows no 
God as " a form of religion ". If, then, it is to be Frazer or 
Robertson Smith, let it by all means be the latter. I protest, 
however, in the name of historical continuity, against the use 
of any such invidious distinctions. For surely it is invidious to 
use a term of disparagement such as " magic " to imply that 
the cult of the sacred is inferior in religious value in strict 
proportion as dogma is absent. Besides, when one looks closely 
into a given case, there usually turns out to be more doctrine of a 
kind at the back of the ritual performance than might be 
supposed by those who forget that thinking is a good deal older 
than logical thinking. I doubt indeed whether any theology 
would be wise to depend in the last resort on its logic. Even so 
it has to be freely admitted that the doctrinal background of the 
Intichiuma rite needs an interpreter of dreams to fathom its 
meaning a meaning none the less in which a mystic might 
possibly find more satisfaction than in a creed reduced to 
Aristotelian terms. To close this part of the discussion, it is 
surely better to treat sacrament as a fundamental institution 
of religion from its first appearance in history onward to its 
fullest and most refined manifestations. For by so doing we 
shall be less likely to do an injustice either to the savage by 
consigning him to an isolation ward where he must play at his 
idle mysteries by himself, or to the votary of the most advanced 
religion by accusing him of following a way of life that is 
encumbered with dead matter. 

Being prepared, then, to extend the name of religion to the 
kind of rite which, though godless, nevertheless belongs to the 
cult of the sacred, or, as Miss Harrison would say, to a " system 
of sanctities ", let us proceed to find a meaning for the term 
" sacrament " such as will be not inconsistent with such a pre- 
theological attitude on the part of the believer. Now it should 
be stated at once that neither Miss Harrison nor I would for 
one moment wish the food-rite the Intichiuma ceremony and 

200 R. R. MARETT 

its like to be regarded as the only kind of sacrament. She 
makes this quite clear by saying, " There are other means of 
contact, of sacramental communion, besides eating and drinking/' 
But the commensal meal, as Robertson Smith would call it, is 
at least thoroughly typical of the ritual proceedings to which 
totemism may give rise. As for its sacramental character, 
this consists, in Miss Harrison's opinion, in being a means of 
what she calls " mana-communion ". Again, though less happily 
in my view, she speaks of sacrifice as " magical contact ", 
evidently using the word " contact " as equivalent to communion. 
In other words, a sacrament is a special means of establishing 
connection with what she calls a sanctity. Such in the case of 
the Intichiuma ceremony is the sacred totem ; the object of 
the rite being to enable the worshipper to participate in that 
sanctity to share in a mana, or miraculous quality of abounding 
kindliness and goodwill, which has been in a way common to 
totem and totemite all along, but is now stirred into greater 
activity by inducing a fuller consciousness of its real presence. 
Miss Harrison's main point in laying stress on the participatory 
aspect of the rite is that she wishes to preclude the idea of a 
favour conferred from without, as by a god who of his own 
initiative rewards his worshippers either according to their 
deserts or beyond them. In the case before us, on the contrary, 
the mana is immanent in the rite itself, if we include the parties 
to the rite among the conditions of its realization. Thus it is 
like some meeting of lovers whose awareness of each other is 
quickened by coming into touch, so that their warmth becomes 
a flame. From an objective point of view, no doubt, there are 
two parties to such a transaction, but, subjectively, and in terms 
of their feelings, all difference is for the time being transcended. 
Such a relation, then, must be classed as sympathetic rather 
than contractual. In short, it is a matter of joining souls rather 
than of marrying a fortune. In putting it thus I am perhaps 
straying rather far from the letter of my text ; but I do not 
think that I am doing an injustice to the general purport of 
Miss Harrison's thought. 

Such, then, by hypothesis being primitive sacrament in its 
root idea namely, a rite embodying a blessing that is enjoyed 
rather than imputed, spontaneous rather than derived let us 
go on to see how far this interpretation is borne out by the known 
facts about the Intichiuma ceremony. It is, however, only 
fair to Miss Harrison to say that she does not regard the Arunta 
custom as altogether characteristic of that age of primal innocence 
of which she is in search. I am afraid that with us anthropologists 
the original condition of this or that institution always tends to 
lie just over the horizon ; for Nature, unlike logic, abhors absolute 
beginnings. Now the primal group of communicants the first 


thiasos, as Miss Harrison would say would for her undoubtedly 
be the matrilineal kin already possessed of a totem wherein its 
community of blood is made known to itself. Now, when such a 
group eats together, it may well be supposed that a certain 
festal warmth would invade and enhance their mutual relations. 
Yet surely the last thing such a group would eat with comfortable 
abandon would be their totem ; unless indeed Miss Harrison 
is ready to accept Professor Haddon's theory that originally, 
that is to say, just before observation becomes possible, the 
totem was the staple food of the group ; so that the kangaroo- 
eaters became known to their neighbours and eventually to 
themselves as the kangaroo-men. If, however, we stick to 
known facts, a totem is not so much the first as the last thing 
on which a totemite would be inclined to make a hearty meal. 
The totemic relation, in fact, is normally expressed rather by 
fasting than by feasting. Hence one would have somehow to 
argue, if the satisfying effects of a full meal are insisted on as 
the emotional basis of the rite, that the kin-group has by further 
evolution become so sophisticated that it has learnt to get an 
additional thrill out of breaking a taboo that a soup?on of 
sin can impart zest to participation in a sanctity. For the 
moment, however, it will be enough to note that the food-rite 
as we find it in actual practice is pervaded with a certain shyness 
or shrinking in a word, with the taboo feeling. In short, the 
postulated association between the sacramental and the festal 
is not borne out by the example cited. So far is the Intichiuma 
ceremony from being an instantia crucis, that the arm of the 
crux or " sign-post " points in quite another direction. 

A second objection to the use made of the Arunta food-rite 
as a clue that is to lead us back to the commensal meal of a 
group owning one and the same strain of mother's blood is that 
these totemites are classified by the anthropologist as " cult- 
societies " pure and simple. It is true that membership depends 
on a sort of birth-qualification ; but so peculiar are Arunta 
views on the subject of birth that one can only term the imputed 
relationship metaphysical, since it rests on no physical basis 
whatever. A man's mother may be of one totem and his father 
of another, and yet he will belong to a third, if his mother was 
entered by a reincarnating spirit when passing the stock or stone 
inhabited by unborn spirits of that third denomination. Now 
this may be a survival of a very primitive type of totemism, as 
Sir James Frazer believes it to be ; or, as others hold, it is the 
mark of a peculiar, not to say eccentric, elaboration of the older 
system that associates totem with natal group in the ordinary 
sense. For our present purpose, however, we need merely 
note that a group of Arunta totemites is not a kin in the social 
sense in other words, is not a natal association that could have 

202 R. R. MARETT 

ever been brought up together so as to rejoice in a common life 
and more especially in common meals. A kangaroo-man's 
sleeping and eating arrangements have nothing to do with his 
totemic status. Thus the chosen example of sacramental 
communion falls so far short in a second respect of answering 
to the supposed archetype that one almost begins to wonder 
whether the Arunta stand any nearer to the imaginary beginning 
of things than do Miss Harrison's Kouretes. 

Let us see, then, whether we can get at least a little way 
behind the Intichiuma rite by treating it not quite so strictly 
as a development of totemism. After all, if there has been any 
decided change of opinion in anthropological circles during the 
last twenty years in regard to religious origins, it has been but 
in the direction of reducing the part played by totemism as such 
during that early phase which is conterminous with the hunting- 
and-gathering stage of society. On a closer scrutiny it has been 
found increasingly impossible to keep the specifically totemistic 
features apart from the non-totemistic in those observances, 
more or less common to the whole wild-feeding world, that are 
meant to bring about luck in procuring their daily food. I do 
not think that " zoolatry " is a particularly happy term to 
express this attitude of the hunter towards the live things hunted ; 
though it is better than " theriolatry " which ignores the plants 
altogether. But, if we do not lay undue stress on the implication 
of worship lurking in the termination " -latry ", it will perhaps 
do. Indeed, my own prejudice is in favour of stretching the 
word " religious " to its utmost, so as to cover practices which 
are of dubious validity as well as manifestations of the religious 
spirit at its purest and best. Thus, even when conciliation 
rather than control appears to be the leading motive, one is 
never quite sure that such a term as cajolery will not cover both 
intentions alike a cajolery, however, which co-exists with, 
and in a way is based on, a very real respect. A wise savage 
might well aspire to control a vegetable or one of the milder 
animals, and yet would surely prefer to conciliate a dangerous 
beast, though none the less in the hope of getting him in the 
end. Mark, too, that in a very real sense the most unpleasant 
to tackle of all the denizens of the wild may be regarded as 
good ; for, as Miss Harrison proves from a number of primitive 
vocabularies, " good " and " eatable " may start as more or 
less convertible terms. Thus, although his character for 
beneficence is something thrust upon the dangerous beast rather 
than of his own seeking, his flatterers almost mean what they 
say when they laud his excellence to the skies ; not being too 
clear in their own minds whether they are referring to his succulent 
taste or to his kindly disposition. Besides, there is another 
reason why an animal or a plant for this consideration applies 


to them all should be treated nicely lest something go wrong 
with the hunting. For, no sooner is one member of the species 
killed and eaten, than another is wanted in its place, so as to 
be killed and eaten to-morrow. There is needed some super- 
natural suspension of the law that you cannot eat your goose 
and have him. How precisely it is to take place is hardly Man's 
concern, one would think, so long as it does take place. 
Nevertheless, in expressing his desire in the collective gesture 
which custom prescribes he usually manages to convey a hint 
to Providence of how the thing may be done. The simplest 
method is to send off each individual animal, as it is done to 
death by the hunter, so that it may come alive again as soon as 
it conveniently can. Thus, by leaving some part intact, the 
eater gives the remaining parts a chance to reassemble ; so 
that, for instance, he will consume the flesh but must abstain 
from cracking the bones. It is obvious, however, that there 
is much to be said for a more wholesale way of inducing a given 
species to keep up its numbers. Nay, whereas replacement 
one by one can merely maintain the status quo, there is no saying 
how glorious a hunting would not ensue if the animal kind as 
such could be made to devote its full energies to breeding. This 
of course is exactly what the Intichiuma rite tries to do ; and the 
fact that the performers have to be namesakes to the given 
animal or plant is perhaps a secondary matter. For in reality 
the Arunta community as a whole is ultimately responsible for 
its system of rites of multiplication. But, having at its disposal 
a set of animal and plant identities not to say names 
distributed in a rather arbitrary way among its members, it 
naturally chooses as its go-between those persons who are in 
special touch with the various species contributory to the tribal 
food-supply. Thereupon the specialists are allowed to deal 
in their own way with their totems' private mode of multi- 
plication sometimes a very complicated affair, as in the case 
of the Witchetty-grubs, of which both Spencer and Gillen 
became the adopted relatives. It is certain, however, that tribal 
celebrations of great importance such as the Engwura or 
Fire-Ceremony, that lasted some four months are pervaded 
from end to end with totemic performances, even though these 
are always enacted by the separate groups who, while as it were 
retaining the copyright, must yet say their piece for the 
edification of all. Whatever, then, be the far-off origin of the 
Intichiuma rite a highly speculative matter at the best its 
actual function, taken at its widest, is, I contend, to further 
easy finding and plentiful eating on behalf of the tribe in general. 
Now, if this be so, the eating of the totem by no means a 
universal feature of these rites, and prominent only in a few 
must be subordinate in function and meaning to the motive 

204 R. R. MARETT 

operating throughout. As Miss Harrison is quick to see, 
sacrifice and the food-sacrament go closely together. How to 
slay and eat nicely, so that the animals will not mind, is the 
problem that they have to solve between them. How, then, 
do the occasional parts of the Intichiuma rite that involve killing 
and eating help towards this solution ? As regards the alleged 
commensality whereby the totem is entertained by his fellow- 
totemites at his own expense, in the first place I cannot find 
the slightest evidence that any such idea is present in the minds 
of those who perform the rite, nor can I see precisely how it 
would fit in with what the occasion really requires, which is 
surely an apology. On the other hand, I believe that, if we never 
lose sight of the fundamental fact that the envoys are ambassadors 
between the tribe and the animal or plant whose name they bear, 
the rest will explain itself. These ambassadors, then, are there 
to express on behalf of the whole Arunta people a hope and 
a fear. 

Firstly, then, as to the hope. This hope is for food in plenty. 
The leader of the Witchetty-grubs rubs the stomachs of his 
whole party with a stone symbolizing the grub and exclaims, 
" You have eaten much food/' This is, as Miss Harrison would 
say, a foomenon, a thing done in the sense of done ahead. It 
prefigures the desired abundance. If it were meant as a feast, 
it would be a poor substitute for the real thing, since grub inside 
the stomach and a stone applied to its outer surface are satis- 
factions that will not readily fuse. But to give utterance in the 
most vivid gesture-language to the common hope by means of 
the prefigurement of its miraculous realization such might 
well be the mission of envoys who had no private and sinister 
interest in forwarding the petition. 

Next as to the fear. When the kangaroo-men actually kill 
a kangaroo and each eats a morsel, and only a morsel, thereof, 
are not the totemites in this case taking on themselves by 
anticipation the brunt of that invidious action on which the tribe 
proposes presently to engage on the widest scale ? It is the 
principle of handselling of leaving the costly first step to those 
most competent to take it with impunity. There is direct 
evidence that the totemite by eating a little is held to 
make such eating free for the rest. Thus, so far from being 
of the communial type, the rite is incipiently piacular. The 
function of the mediator is to take upon himself the sin of the 
rest, so that the righteous indignation of the victimized totem 
may be deflected to the one group of human beings whom he 
would be most disposed to forgive. 

Now I do not wish to exaggerate the contrast between the 
communial and the piacular type of ceremony, though the 
symbolism of sharing a blessing will naturally differ a good 


deal from that of getting rid of a curse. For the fact that they 
have likewise something in common is indicated by the very word 
that in English has come chiefly to stand for a rite of reconciliation 
presupposing the removal of a cause of trouble in moral terms, 
a forgiveness of sin. When we say " atonement " our very 
pronunciation helps to conceal the etymological sense of 
achieving an at-one-ness. At-one-ness, however, is by no means 
the same thing as one-ness. It stands for a transcended duality 
rather than for a unity that is such by nature. So, too, then, 
I suggest that the so-called communial rite is from its first 
inception intended to effect a miracle of at-one-ment to build 
a supernatural bridge across a natural divide. Now Miss Harrison, 
I suppose, as well as Robertson Smith whom I take her to be 
following closely whenever she is not taking her lead from the 
very similar speculations of Durkheim would say that the 
original kin-group has its internal squabbles to get over, so 
that the common mother's blood of them would need warming 
up from time to time if peace and friendliness were to reign in 
the primeval home. I grant that stern taboos were presumably 
needed to preserve the amenities in the earliest of fire-circles. 
Thus the prohibition against intestine murder and intestine 
marriage may alike have originated in the attempt to enforce 
orderly and seemly relations under the sanction of the curse of 
the united mothers, the high priestesses of the common blood. 
There is no evidence, however, so far as I know, that their custom 
of eating together after all, a daily occurence which for this 
very reason would be unlikely to acquire any special significance 
and sanctity had developed into a means of repressing 
dissociative tendencies, whether in the form of a quarrel with a 
kin-brother or of a liaison with a kin-sister. The only fact I know 
that seems at all to the point and it is very sketchily reported 
by Howitt and may well be incorrect is that certain totemites 
ate an erring brother, apparently by way of restoring him to 
their communion. As, however, endo-cannibalism can never 
have been the normal mode of supplying the common table of 
the archetypal kin, this solitary instance, even if its documentary 
value were above suspicion, would hardly be relevant. Killing 
and eating a blood-relation once in a blue moon for a group 
that needed to do this at regular intervals would not remain in 
being long could hardly serve as the starting-point of a custom 
embodying the idea of commensality. In any case it clearly 
involves reconciliation rather than spontaneous good-fellowship 
as its basic motive. Hence I would not seek in the internal 
affairs of the kin for the reason that makes eating together a 
symbol of communion, but rather in its external relations with 
the stranger. That, if hospitality be given and accepted, the 
foreigner's potency for harm will be neutralized, is a principle 

206 R. R. MARETT 

holding throughout the savage world. But from the first such 
a precept implies at-one-ment a duality to be transcended. 
I fully allow that the symbolism implies that eating together 
in fellowship, as the kin normally does, is incompatible with 
the spirit of enmity ; so that the stranger, by being treated as 
a kinsman, is miraculously transformed from a foe into a friend. 
But it is only at the point at which symbolism becomes necessary 
that ritual comes into existence. The commensal meal of the 
kin may have provided the pattern for the rite ; but in itself it 
is no rite any more than, if for religious reasons the horns of 
a bull are worn by a man, the wearing of horns is proved to 
have been a religious act on the part of the bull. 

If, then, I am at all right in insisting on the fundamental 
disharmony which the food-rite, whether in its distinctively 
totemic form or otherwise, is designed to overcome, the food- 
animal, totem though it be, is not like a kinsman participating 
in the common meal by natural right, but is rather like the 
alien who, if persuaded to accept a gift of food, cannot in common 
decency maintain the malignant attitude affected by foreign 
devils as such. It is surely a matter for diplomacy for the most 
delicate handling of an international situation in which the one 
party is trying to get the best of the other with as good a 
conscience as it can muster to persuade a poor beast that it 
has to be killed and eaten, because that is how the world is 
made. When the thing is settled the one-sided treaty signed 
there may be rejoicings on the part of the eater ; but to force 
this aspect of the matter on the attention of the about-to-be- 
eaten would be bad policy and bad manners to boot. In short, 
the occasion calls rather for the ceremonial lamentations that so 
often accompany the death of the animal, even when it has 
become domesticated, that is, has sunk to the level of a member 
of the familia, the group of farm-chattels. Now one does not 
like to think of such a show of grief as simply a piece of solemn 
humbug. Indeed, man is so honestly convinced of his innate 
superiority that he cannot conceive the underdog to have rights, 
if these run counter to interests which, being those of so high a 
being as himself, must surely be valid absolutely and for all 
alike. We can call it the imperialistic fallacy, if indeed it is a 
fallacy for strength to vindicate its natural dominance over 
weakness. Be this as it may, primitive man is either too cautious 
or too decent-minded to adopt the tone of a bully in his dealings 
with those shy creatures, the game ; but is always polite, even 
when he does not mean quite all he says. Indeed, when one 
thinks of the very primitive hunter as essentially a man of 
snares for he has not got weapons for successful attack in the 
open one is impelled to ask whether his very ritual is not a 
sort of supersnare. Facts, alas ! are facts, even if one would 


prefer not to find an organized hypocrisy among the roots of 

Let me refrain, however, from further speculation in this 
unedifying direction, lest I prejudice my case. My main 
contention is simply that in origin the sacramental type of 
meal is essentially distinct from the festal, even if later religious 
practice sometimes tends to confuse them. The festal type is 
certainly to be encountered within the wide ambit of historical 
religion ; which includes, for instance, downright Saturnalia, 
when the ordinary, or profane, use of food helps to bring people 
together and to promote general hilarity. But, in connection 
with the sacramental type, no such festival spirit is endurable. 
As a well-known verse from the Epistle to St. Jude proclaims, 
" These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with 
you, feeding themselves without fear/' In the true sacrament 
a holy fear must preclude free enjoyment of the food as such. 
There need be no eating at all, as when the flesh and blood are 
consumed by fire ; or, if there is a meal, it must at least be sparing. 
For it is an act not so much of consecration as of deconsecration. 
Not participation but naturalization is its object. Man is not 
so much concerned to add to his own stock of mana by absorbing 
that of the victim, as he is to neutralize an alien mana which 
might do him harm if, like the blood of righteous Abel, the 
victim's blood should continue to cry aloud for vengeance. 
The analogy, in short, is more with a composition negotiated in 
a matter of blood-revenge than with any collegiate gathering 
any sort of primitive bump-supper To repeat what was 
previously said, the sacramental meal is not so much a feast 
as a fast. Nay, it often demands a previous discipline of 
abstinence, its ascetic quality being perhaps emphasized by the 
use of an emetic. It is, I would suggest, the presence of this 
taboo-feeling this shrinking from the world and its pleasures 
that helps to dematerialize the sacramental meal, and thus to 
render it the fitting symbol of a communion with the divine 
when approached in a truly religious spirit, namely, one that must 
be humble before it can become jubilant. Miss Harrison, in 
her clever way, perceives that in the actual cases analysed there 
is always a certain felt difference between the man and his 
totem-animal. But she thinks this sense of apartness is 
secondary a faltering of the original all-embracing sense of 
kinship ; whereas, if I am right, it is primary, nay, integral to the 
very conception of the sacramental act. 

The topic being inexhaustible I could go on to argue that 
another point made further on in the same chapter by Miss 
Harrison, to the effect that the idea of sacramental communion 
is in the middle religions supplanted by a theory of " do ut des " > 
assumes a new appearance if we identify communion with a sort 

208 R. R. MARETT 

of peacemaking between potential enemies. For it will be found 
that the savage notion of giving and receiving presents is by 
no means the same as our own, being largely symbolic and, in 
fact, embodying another characteristic method of patching up a 
quarrel. If so, the transition from communion to the gift- 
sacrifice is not so abrupt as Miss Harrison would suppose. 

But, instead of pursuing this new hare, let me break off at 
this point with apologies for having sounded a note of criticism 
without at the same time expressing my genuine admiration for 
Miss Harrison's work. The fact is that the substance of this 
paper is taken from the Jane Harrison Lecture delivered by 
me at Newnham College, Cambridge, in 1932 ; and on that 
occasion I took the opportunity of stating how much I owed 
personally to the inspiration derived from her writings. Yet 
after all no greater compliment can be paid to her as a serious 
anthropologist than by subjecting her theories to critical 
examination. Reading her Themis over again carefully, I seem 
to perceive some slips in details, but feel at the same time that 
in the greater matters she exhibits an unfailing sense of direction 
together with an unfaltering resolution to win through. In fact, 
as Andrew Lang once said about her, " she has I'&tincelle " that 
divine spark which is the sign of power in art and science alike. 

By C. K. MEEK 

In the space allowed for this paper it will only be possible 
to refer to a few of those concepts of the Ibo which may be 
conveniently described as " legal ", more particularly as it will 
be necessary to include an account of the social and religious 
organization, with which the whole of the legal system is closely 
interwoven. For Ibo Law is not a well-defined institution 
by itself, but is rather the expression, when such is called for, 
of the innumerable latent rules governing all the tribal institutions. 

The Ibo-speaking peoples number about 3,185,000 people, 
and are centred mainly in the Onitsha, Owerri, Benin, and Ogoja 
Provinces of Nigeria. It is with the North-Western groups 
inhabiting the political divisions of Onitsha Province, known 
as Nsukka and Awgu, that this paper is principally concerned. 

According to Dr. Talbot * the Ibo consist of a number of 
sub-tribes such as the Awhawzara and Awhawfia. 2 But these 
terms are primarily geographical, and the most striking feature 
of Ibo society as a whole is the absence of any strong tribal or 
sub-tribal organization. In the Nsukka and Awgu divisions 
there is no higher social or political unit than the " village-area ", 
i.e. the group of villages united by the possession of a common 
name and territory, the belief in descent from a common ancestor, 
the sharing of common customs and cults, and sometimes of a 
common chi or soul. 

The village-area may thus constitute a clan. 3 But it is 
frequently a local rather than a kinship grouping ; for, though 
the component villages may vaguely claim a common ancestor, 
it can often be proved that there was no original relationship, 
and in many cases, indeed, no relationship is claimed. Such 
unity as they possess is due to economic and political circum- 
stances and to intermarriage. 

A village-area is known as an obodo or mba or ala, 
and includes a number of subdivisions known as nkporo 
or ogbwe. The nkporo in turn is subdivided into smaller 
groups or hamlets known as qnuma or nchi. The hamlet 
may coincide with the single kinship grouping known as 
umunna or may embrace several umunna. An umunna 

1 Southern Nigeria, iv, 42. 

2 Awhawzara means " the people of the shrub bush " and Awhawfia " the 
people of the thick bush ". 

3 But there is no clan exogamy. 


210 C. K. MEEK 

may be composed of a single group of related families 
each of which consists of such close relatives as a man and his 
wife, brothers or first cousins and their wives and children ; or 
it may consist of two or more related groups of such families. 
Where the umunna consists of a single group of related 
families it may, for the purposes of this article, be described as an 
" extended-family 'V and where it consists of two or more groups 
of related families it may be described as a " kindred ". 

The umunna is the basic social unit. Where it consists 
of a single extended-family it is invariably 2 an exogamous unit. 
Where it embraces a number of related extended-families it may 
or may not be an exogamous unit. Intermarriage between related 
extended-families is sometimes allowed and sometimes forbidden. 
The exogamous unit may therefore be as small as a dozen people 
or as large as five or six hundred. A large umunna differs 
little from a small clan (unless we are to regard exogamy as a sine 
qua non of clanship). Descent is reckoned patrilineally. 

With regard to the religious conceptions of the people it may 
be said shortly that the Ibo believe in the existence of a Supreme 
Spirit known as Chuku. In his creative aspect Chuku is described 
as Chineke or Chukwoke or Chi Okike. He sends rain, makes 
the crops grow, and is the source from which men derive their 
Chi or " Soul ". He is sometimes equated with and some- 
times regarded as the father of Anyariu, the Sun. He is also the 
father of Igwe (the Sky), Amadi Qha (Lightning), and Ale 
(the Earth-deity). Sacrifices are not usually offered to Chuku, 
but he is regarded as the ultimate recipient of all sacrifices. In 
the Nsukka Division every householder offers regular sacrifice 
to Anyariu 3 (the Sun), but in the Awgu Division there are no 
sun-shrines, though a man may occasionally hang up a chicken 
in a piece of cleft bamboo with a prayer to Anyariu that he will 
receive it and convey it to Chuku. Incidentally the peoples of 
Awka are known to those of Awgu as " The children of the Sun ". 

The most important deity in the religious and social life of 
the people is Ale or Ala or Ane, the Earth-deity. Ale is regarded 
as the owner of men, whether alive or dead. The cult of ancestors 
is therefore closely associated with Ale, who is queen 4 of the 
Underworld. Ale is the source of human morality, and is in 
consequence the principal legal sanction. Homicide, kidnapping, 
poisoning, stealing farm-products, adultery, giving birth to 
twins or abnormal children, are all offences against Ale, and 
must be purged by sacrifice to her. Laws are made in her name, 

1 In some groups an extended-family is known as onunne or umunne 
(children of one mother, i.e. descendants of full brothers). 

* With the exception of the Ache district in which marriage with close 
consanguineous relatives (e.g. first cousins) is permissible. 

3 The expression Anyanu means " the eyes of Arm ". 

4 Ale is sometimes regarded as a male deity. 

IBO LAW 211 

and by her oaths are sworn. Ale is, in fact, the unseen 
president of the community, and no group is complete which has 
not its shrine and priest of Ale. 

Under the control of Ale are numerous godlings or spirits, 
of whom the most important is Njoku, the giver and protector of 
yams. The ancestors of the people also live under the control 
and act as the agents of Ale. They profoundly influence the 
lives of their descendants. They are the guardians of morality, 
and regard any departure from custom as a breach of morality. 
It is for this reason that priests of cults and heads of families, 
who are the living representatives of the ancestors, have 
frequently eschewed association with the new-fangled laws of 
the Government. ' 

The head of each family-group, or okpara as he is called, 
owes his authority (or such authority as he possesses) largely to 
the fact that he is the representative and mouthpiece of the 
family ancestors, symbolized by the sacred stick known as ofg. 
This stick, which is a section of a branch of a species of tree 
believed to have been set aside by Chuku as a symbol and 
guarantee of truth, is inherited and carefully preserved by all 
heads of families. 

All priests of cults have an 0/0, which is the recognized means 
of communication with the deity or spirit of the cult. But it 
represents also the ancestors who formerly ministered to the 
cult. It is the symbol of authority of the living priest, and the 
guarantee and means of transmission of his " Holy Orders ". 
And just as the priest himself tends to become identified with 
the god he serves, so the 0/0 becomes identified with the deity 
or spirit in whose service it is used. In many groups gfos are 
even specifically identified with the god or spirit of Truth and 
Justice. Oaths are sworn on 0/05, and no 0/0-h older would 
swear falsely by his 0/0, unless he had become a renegade. 

There is a final aspect of ancestor-worship which is of prime 
importance in the administration of justice, viz. the societies 
(secret from w r omen) in which the ancestors or ancestral leaders 
are personated by maskers known as Mo. These societies act 
as policemen of the community, and are used particularly as a 
means of disciplining the female members of the community. The 
Mp might, on their own initiative, drive an adulterous woman 
out of the kindred, and banish anyone suspected of practising 
witchcraft, or compel him or her to submit to the ordeal of 
drinking sasswood. 

With this brief summary we may now proceed to give some 
details of the manner in which law functions among the Ibo, and 
as law begins within the family-group or umunna, we shall 
consider first the mode by which the umunna is governed. 

An umunna is composed of groups of compounds, each of 

212 C. K. MEEK 

which contains one or several small or biological families closely 
related to each other. Each of these families is in most respects 
an economic unit, as each farms and trades on its own account. 
But each compound or household recognizes its senior member as 
its moral and political controller. Similarly, each group of 
households constituting a distinct extended-family within the 
umunna, is subject to the control of the various heads of 
households, presided over by the okpara or senior householder, 
who holds the family ofo, and represents the family in all its 
external relations. Where the umunna contains a number 
of extended-families, the control is vested in the whole body of 
elders, presided over by the head of the senior extended-family, 
who is the holder of the senior ofo. The authority of the 
okpara is based on the fact that he is regarded as living in 
close association with the ancestors, and is thus the chief repository 
of custom. He has charge of the shrine of the founder of the 
umunna, to whom he offers regular sacrifice once a year on 
behalf of the whole kindred, and irregular sacrifice on behalf of 
individuals who may be directed by the diviner to offer sacrifice. 
He can bring any recalcitrant member to heel by the mere threat 
of invoking his ofo against that man. To insult him is to insult 
the ancestors, who are regarded as ever present in his ofo. One 
guilty of such an offence would be brought before him and the 
other elders, and ordered to hand over a chicken, some kola-nuts, 
and a pot of palm-wine, that sacrifice might be offered to the 
ancestors, lest in their anger they should kill the offender. The 
advice of the senior elder cannot usually be disregarded, unless 
he is so old and decrepit that another has to act on his behalf. He 
takes immediate steps to stop inter-family fights, and, assisted by 
the other elders, investigates all disputes, warning those who have 
misbehaved themselves that if they repeat their conduct they need 
not look to him for assistance. If the matter were serious, such 
as theft from a fellow-member of the kindred, he would warn the 
thief that a repetition of his offence would lead to his expulsion 
from the village, or being sold as a slave to the Aro. 1 He might 
even, with the concurrence of the other elders of the kindred, order 
him to be tied hand and foot and placed on a platform over a 
smoking fire for two days without food or drink. He might 
threaten to drive out of the family-group any young man who had 
shown himself to be lazy and taken no steps to obtain a wife. 2 
He might order a member of the family-group who owed a debt 
to a fellow-member, or to a member of another family-group, to 
pay the debt forthwith, under the penalty of having a taboo 
(a knotted palm-leaf) placed on his property. He might, in 

1 The Aro were itinerant traders and slave-dealers. 

2 But in the first instance a recalcitrant son is brought to book by his own 
father or the head of the small family-group. 

IBO LAW 213 

association with the other elders, inflict a severe fine on anyone 
committing adultery with the wife of a kinsman, and order the 
poisoning of one who had committed incest. 1 He could, in former 
days, call on the father of twins or abnormal children to rid the 
kindred immediately of the " abominable thing ". When gifts, 
fees, or sacrificial foods are divided he, as the holder of the senior 
0/0, takes the first share, and when meetings are held to settle 
disputes he announces the decision, holding the 0/0 in his right 
hand and quoting precedents for the decision. 

The head of a kindred, or family-group, is not, however, an 
autocrat, unless he happens to be a man of outstanding 
personality. If he is weak and untrustworthy he has little 
influence, and his functions may, by common consent, be delegated 
to any suitable person. Even a young successful man may be 
accorded the position of leadership. One who has obtained a 
public office or title may overshadow the senior elder, and in 
some communities, if there is a priest of Ale in the kindred, he may, 
even if he is a comparatively young man, be accorded the position 
of principal authority. Furthermore, if the kindred is large, there 
is usually considerable jealousy between the various extended- 
families composing the kindred, and each extended-family 
endeavours, for its own honour, to settle quietly any case of 
delinquency on the part of one of its members, without bringing 
it to the notice of the head official of the kindred. The 
authority of the head of the kindred is also qualified by the 
fact that he cannot act solely on his own initiative. In all 
important matters he is bound to consult and seek the support of 
the other elders and important persons of the kindred. 

A well-known feature of the legal system is the collective 
responsibility of the family-group for the conduct of its members. 
The stock example of this is in cases of murder or manslaughter. 
Immediate retaliation was made by the kin of the murdered man 
on any member of the murderer's kin, and the property of the 
nearest relatives of the murderer was pillaged. In consequence 
of this rule the murderer was expected by his own family to 
commit suicide immediately, in order to save the whole family 
from attack and their property from spoliation. If the murderer 
failed to do this the whole of his kin had to seek refuge in flight. 

When the anger of the murdered man's kin had subsided, the 
kin of the murderer could return, on condition that the murderer 
or some other member of his family committed suicide. Details 
will be given on this subject later, and it need only be remarked 
here that, in consequence of this rule of collective responsibility, 
the elders of a kindred constantly warned their young men 
to keep control over their feelings and avoid the use of lethal 
weapons. Further, as murder was considered an offence against 

1 But in some areas no one would take part in killing a kinsman. 

214 C. K. MEEK 

Ale (the Earth-deity), the crime, if committed against a fellow- 
member of the same family, was not one which could be palliated 
or settled privately by the family itself. The whole community 
took action against the murderer, and his own brother might be 
the first to set fire to his house. Even if a man killed his brother 
accidentally, he had to fly and remain away for a period of one 
month. He was then permitted to return ; but at the first 
festivalof Ale he had to take a goat, fowl, new basket, cloth, and 
some yams to the shrine of Ale where he knelt down and said : 
" Ale, I bring these gifts to you. I did not kill my brother by 
design. I went out hunting like the rest, and killed him by an 
accident. Ale spare my life." The various articles brought were 
left at the shrine. The animals were not sacrificed. The goat 
became sacred and taboo, and was allowed to wander about 
unharmed. Indeed, it was given the right of way on the road. 
If it bore young ones they also became taboo, being known as 
" Ewu Ale ". The goat was in fact a scapegoat, for it was stated 
that the " evil " which had moved the man to kill his fellow had 
passed into the goat, and that if anyone ate the flesh of that 
goat the inherent " evil " would cause his death. It is to 
be noticed that in a case of this kind (i.e. of a man killing a member 
of his* own extended-family or kindred) no blood-money was 
payable, on the ground that it would be heinous to derive profit 
from the death of a " brother ". 

The collective responsibility of the kinship group is shown also 
in numerous other ways. Thus (at Oduma), if a man had been 
summoned by the elders of the town to answer some charge, and 
refused to attend, the elders would send young men to bring him 
by force. If they could not find him they would capture any 
member of the accused's extended-family and keep him a prisoner 
until the accused appeared. This would induce the elders of the 
accused's extended-family to bring pressure on the parents of 
the accused to produce him or disclose his whereabouts. If the 
accused had run away to some distant town, the members of his 
extended-family would be called on to pay the penalty of the 
accused's offence. Similarly in cases of debt, if the creditor could 
not induce the debtor to repay the loan, he would go to the 
compound of any of the accused's relatives who happened to 
be absent on their farms, and capture goats or any other articles 
equivalent to or in excess of the amount of the debt. Later in the 
day he would send word to the owner of the property informing 
him of the reasons of his action. The owner in turn would bring 
pressure on the debtor to pay the sum he owed. If the creditor 
belonged to another village he might, if sufficiently adroit, 
appropriate property from anyone in the creditor's village, the 
elders of which would then force the debtor to pay. These 
regulations did not, of course, imply that there was any collective 

IBO LAW 215 

ownership of property or that a person was held morally 
responsible for the sins of his relatives. They were simply an 
obvious method of obtaining redress through those who were in 
a position to bring pressure. Nevertheless they served to maintain 
the kinship solidarity. 

Just as the wnunna is the basis of the social system, so 
the mode by which it is governed is the pattern of the mode 
of government of each larger group, whether it be an qnuma 
(hamlet), nkporo (village), or obodo (village-area). It is 
government by the body of elders presided over by the senior 
elder. It was never government by a single individual, though 
a single individual might exercise a position of leadership, either 
on account of some special office or exceptional influence or 

In using the term " government "it is not to be supposed that 
public notice was taken of every case which was a breach of 
customary law. The governing body only concerned itself with 
cases which were (a) an offence against religion (or, as the Ibo 
w r ould say, " abominable ") and so would bring disaster on the 
community unless the steps prescribed by custom were taken, or 
(b) which were likely to break up the solidarity of the umunna 
qnuma, nkporo, or obodo. A man might steal from another and, 
if caught red-handed, be sold into slavery by the owner of the 
stolen property, without reference to the elders or any one else. 
Or a creditor might recover his debt by appropriating a goat 
or other property belonging to the debtor, or a member of his 
kinship or local group. Or again two parties to a dispute might 
refer their dispute not to the whole council of the group, but to 
certain arbitrators chosen by each side. 

The term " government ", moreover, was government only 
in a very qualified sense, for even in cases where the group 
solidarity was endangered the central council of elders might be 
powerless to intervene. The body of elders was a body of 
mediators and referees rather than of prosecutors and judges, 
and the community was a republic in the true sense of that 
term, i.e. a corporation in which government was the concern 
of all. 

Instances may now be given to illustrate the composition of 
the councils, and the methods of procedure. Firstly, as regards 
the personnel of the village or village-area courts or councils, 
though all the elders l are members of the council and are 
nominally on an equal footing, there are particular personages 
or classes to whom special reference must be made. These are 
(a) the senior elder or holder of the senior gfg ; (b) the announcers 
of decisions ; (c) the holders of " staves of judgment ", 

1 The term " elders " includes all householders, but the principal elders are 
the heads of extended-families who are known as the Qha. 

216 C. K. MEEK 

i.e. a special class of judges or arbitrators found in certain 
communities ; (d) rich or influential men who had attained a 
special position as arbitrators ; (e) titled persons. 

As regards the most senior elder, he generally acted as president 
of the council, to the extent that he opened the proceedings by a 
prayer to the gods and ancestors to be present at their 
deliberations, to enable them to arrive at a right decision, and 
punish any elder who attempted to pervert justice and any 
witness who gave false evidence. 1 It may be noted incidentally 
that it was permissible for either party to a case to demand the 
withdrawal of any elder, on the ground that that elder was a 
hereditary enemy of his family. There was thus a system of 
challenging " jurors ". Moreover, the general body of elders 
could by common consent call on any of their number who was 
known to be a bad character to withdraw from the proceedings. 

The announcers of decisions were always prominent personages 
at councils or trials. They had usually to be men of good address 
and to have a sound knowledge of the customary procedure. 
They were commonly the holders of the senior ofo, but if the 
holder of the senior ofo was not a good speaker he had to delegate 
one of the family-group to act as his deputy. In some 
communities the duty of announcing decisions was not assigned 
to any particular person or office. Any good speaker would be 
called upon to perform this duty. But in other communities 
certain families had a special right of announcing decisions, 
and in some cases these families acted as principal arbiters in 
all disputes. 

A man of outstanding wealth might in any group attain for 
himself a measure of chieftainship, if he was able and generous. 
With him rested the decision whether the group should go to 
war or not, for he could provide the powder and firearms. In 
this way he attained control over the younger age-grades, which 
readily placed themselves at his service for any purpose. He 
might even call on them to work on his farms. By rendering 
services to all who came to him for help he was constantly adding 
to the number of his free-born followers, and by demanding a 
major portion of captives taken in war (in return for providing 
powder and firearms) he was constantly adding to the number of 
his slaves. It is easy to understand, therefore, how a rich, 
generous man could become the principal judge and centre of 
authority. His presence would be called for in every important 
case, and few would care to oppose his views. 

Finally, we come to the groups of titled people who, as being 

1 The head of the senior family in the town is frequently known as the 
Onyishi, and in some communities, before he is given this formal title, he is 
made to swear an oath that he will not adjudicate in secret, take sides in disputes, 
appropriate communal or other property by force, or apply public moneys to 
his own purposes. 

IBO LAW 217 

the richest men in the community, took the most prominent part 
in its control. They included in their ranks the heads of the 
most important extended-families. They were in some com- 
munities the principal judges and principal executive officers, 
and enjoyed numerous privileges. Thus at Inyi those holding 
titles took the most important part in all judicial matters. 
Breaches of customary law were reported to the senior title- 
holder in the nkporo or quarter and he, together with other 
holders of the title, would go to the offender's house and capture 
or kill one of his goats, pending further investigation of the 
case. If the offence was small the loss of the goat might be 
considered a sufficient punishment, but if it was serious the 
holders of titles might order the man to be sold and divide the 
proceeds among themselves. If the culprit had taken refuge in 
the house of the priest of Ale, the holders of titles would capture 
and sell a boy or girl from his family. Fines were imposed on 
anyone who insulted a member of the order, and it is said that 
people were afraid even of offending a person whose brother 
was the holder of a title. 

Among the Isu Ochi the holders of titles enjoyed numerous 
privileges. They inflicted heavy fines on anyone who assaulted 
one of their order, and if the offender was unable to pay the fine 
he was sold into slavery. Even to abuse the holder of a title 
was an offence, and it was an offence also for any non-titled person 
to enter the house of a titled person after dark. One who 
committed adultery with the wife of a titled man was sold into 
slavery (whereas in ordinary cases there was no official penalty 
unless the adultery had taken place in the husband's house, in 
which case the adulterer was fined). Creditors could distrain 
the property of debtors, but they could not do so if the debtor 
was the holder of a title. The holders of titles, besides taking 
a principal part in trials, acted as guardians of orphans and of 
their property, a rule which was found to be necessary, as the 
relatives of orphaned children had sometimes sold the children 
into slavery. 

The holders of titles were distinguished by a spear or iron 
staff. Their influence has now in many areas completely 
disappeared, as, with the advent of the Government, they could 
no longer enjoy their former privileges. 

In the Nsukka Division the control of the village was vested 
mainly in the titled personages known as Asogwa, who employed 
the minor titled officials known as Ndishi Iwu as their executive 
officers. In most villages the Ndishi Iwu used the cults of Qmabe 
or Odo as the legal sanction, and, if any person broke a law or 
refused to obey an order of the council, the Iwu would proceed to 
his house with a masker of the cult and place a knotted palm-leaf 
in the roof, thereby interdicting the owner from touching anything 

2i8 C. K. MEEK 

until the taboo had been removed. In some localities the Ndishi 
Iwu were also the principal judges, but in others the principal 
judges were the holders of the Ozp title or that known as " Eze ". 
In a few villages, the Eze or Ezes of the village had attained a 
position which almost amounted to chieftainship, but this 
was due to the influence of the Igala tribe. For among 
the Ibo the indigenous form of government is essentially of a 
democratic or conciliar character. 


We may now give some examples of the legal procedure, and 
it is hardly necessary to remark that in order to understand 
Ibo legal procedure we must divest ourselves of many English 
legal conceptions, such as the rigid distinction between " civil " 
and " criminal " cases, or the idea that public notice had to be 
taken of every offence. Even in cases of " sin " no public action 
might be necessary, as the sinner might automatically punish 
himself in the manner prescribed by custom. Or, again, a criminal 
might be automatically punished by his own family or by the 
person against whom he had committed a crime. If a criminal 
was caught flagrante delicto in the presence of witnesses there 
was no necessity as a rule for any form of trial. Trials occurred 
in doubtful cases, and if, after the hearing of evidence, the matter 
still remained doubtful it was decided by an oath or an ordeal. 
It must be remembered also that there was no hard and fast code. 
The community reacted in various ways according to the 
circumstances of the case. The elders who tried cases had to 
consider the social position of the accused, the attitude and 
strength of his kindred, whether he was a useful member of 
society or not, and so on. Decisions were in fact judicious 
rather than judicial. 


To commit murder was an offence against Ale, and it was 
the concern of the whole community to see that the steps 
prescribed by custom were carried out. If the murderer hanged 
himself forthwith (which he frequently did, either from remorse 
at having killed one of Ale's children, or in order to save his 
family from attack and the loss of their property, or because 
he was expected to do so) his brother was (at Owelle) required to 
offer sacrifice to Ale before burying the body of the murderer. 
He took eight yams and one chicken to the priest of Ale who, 
standing before the symbol of the cult, spoke as follows : " Ale, 
this chicken and these yams have been given to you by the 
brother of the man who killed your child and then hanged himself. 
He beseeches you to accept this atonement and to refrain from 

IBO LAW 219 

pursuing the brothers and children of the murderer. He who 
killed a fellow-man has also killed himself. Let his crime therefore 
follow him to the next world/ 1 It will be observed from this rite 
that the family of the murderer was considered as sharing in the 
responsibility of the crime unless it took steps to dissociate itself 
from the murder. It had to provide a cow, goat, fowl, two yards of 
cloth, and a keg of powder for the funeral rites of the murdered man. 

If the murderer did not immediately hang himself but took 
refuge in flight, his family had also to fly, 1 for the kin of the 
murdered man (including maternal relatives) immediately made 
a raid on the compounds and property of the kin of the murderer. 
In this raid any members of the local group might join. The 
compounds of the murderer's family were burnt to the ground, 
their yams were uprooted, and their palms cut down. 2 All property 
found might be appropriated, but in some communities it was 
taboo for the patrilineal relatives of the murdered man to keep 
any of the raided property, on the ground that this would be 
" eating blood-money ". But relatives in the female line might 
do so, as their Ale was not concerned with the death of men in 
other local groups. 

The family of the murderer remained in exile for a period of at 
least one month, 3 when they might be invited by the elders of 
their town to return, the consent of the kin of the murdered man 
having first been obtained. The murderer himself continued to 
remain in exile. In some communities (e.g. at Oduma) the 
following rite was performed before the return of the exiled 
family. The senior ada or sister of each of the kindreds 
concerned went together to the compounds of the exiled family 
and swept them out thoroughly. They then took a cock and a 
hen, tied them together with a palm-leaf, and walked round the 
compounds, saying : " Ale, do not permit such a thing to occur 
again. Ale, be not angry with us/' They then collected the 
sweepings of the compound and threw them and the two fowls into 
the " bush of evil ". This rite of purification is known as Eza 
fu ntu ochu, i.e. " The sweeping-out of the ashes of murder ". 

On the return of the exiled family 4 a public meeting would 

1 If the murderer and murdered man belonged to different local groups the 
whole of the murderer's local group might be forced to fly. If the murderer 
and murdered man belonged to two different nhporos a state of war might 
ensue between the two nkporos. 

a At Mmako, in cases of accidental homicide, the relatives of the deceased 
went to the compound of the man-slayer and cut down one palm-tree and one 
bread-fruit tree only. 

3 The Ale priest and elders, usually at the end of twenty-eight days, called 
on the kin of the murdered man to desist from making further raids on the 
property of the kin of the murderer, lest a continuance should lead to another 

4 In some communities the family of the murderer would not be permitted 
to return until they had produced the murderer or a substitute, who would be 
required to hang himself publicly. 

220 C. K. MEEK 

be held to inquire into the matter and decide what atonement 
must be made by the murderer's kin. This meeting might be 
held in the compound of the priest of Ale, but the priest usually 
took no part in the discussions, from fear of making some mistake 
for which Ale would punish him. In some towns meetings 
connected with a murder were always held in an open space 
clear of all houses, lest the pollution of the murder should infect 
the houses. The proceedings were conducted principally by the 
elders or, in certain communities, by particular individuals who 
had special authority to deal with cases of homicide. 1 These 
would consider all the circumstances of the case, and elicit 
whether the homicide was accidental or deliberate, and, if the 
latter, whether there were any extenuating circumstances. If 
it appeared that the homicide had been accidental, the man- 
slayer might be allowed to return after twenty-eight days, and on 
his return would be required to offer sacrifice to Ale. But in some 
communities there was no difference in the penalty for accidental 
homicide and murder, owing to the belief that if a man killed 
another by what we should term an accident he must at some 
previous time have committed an act abominable to Ale. If 
there were extenuating circumstances he might be permitted to 
produce a substitute to be publicly killed. The substitute might 
be some notorious thief of whom the community wished to be rid, 
and the killing was carried out by a man hired from another 
town for the purpose, as it was considered an offence against Ale 
to slay a fellow-townsman, even if that townsman had been guilty 
of murder. Sometime later the murderer was required to go 
through the form of dedicating a person to the service of Ale, 
as a substitute for the man he had killed. He went to another 
town and hired a man for this purpose. He took this hireling, 
together with a tortoise, an aiagere fowl, a piece of ofo wood, 
a pottery plate, and a pot, to the shrine of the priest of Ale. The 
hireling was stripped naked and the priest spoke as follows : 
" Ale, this man has been brought to you as a substitute for your 
son who was killed/ 1 The murderer added : " Please, Ale, let 
me go free and be not wrathful with me again/' The hireling 
then knelt before the shrine. He did not apparently remain 
permanently as an osu 2 or slave of Ale, but was allowed 
to return to his own town. 

Whether there were extenuating circumstances or not, the 

1 It is noteworthy that in all investigations into homicide the judges refused 
to accept any form of preliminary gift such as snuff or palm-wine or kola, lest 
they should incur the anger of Ale. 

* Persons permanently dedicated to the gods are known as osu. They are 
despised, and no free person will marry an osu. They are also feared, being 
regarded as dynamized by the god. If they committed theft they were not 
prosecuted, lest the anger of the god should be incurred. Even at the present 
time some Court members are afraid of trying an osu on any charge. 

IBO LAW 221 

murderer might in some communities be called on to hang 
himself if he re-appeared in the town. Or he might be required 
to produce some member of his family-group to hang himself 
in his stead. 1 But if a substitute hanged himself, the murderer 
(at Owelle) had to make atonement by the following rite. He 
summoned the priest of Ale to his house and presented him with 
a white chicken and a yam. The priest roasted the yam and, 
holding the chicken and yam in his hand, said, ' Ale, I am giving 
this fowl to you to appease your wrath against this man. Ale, 
I am going to give this man a yam to eat, and I beseech you that 
you will refrain from taking his life when he partakes of anything 
which has been touched by a man of Owelle.' 1 The murderer 
was then given the yam to eat. The fowl was appropriated by 
the priest. 

It may be noted in conclusion that no person who had been 
guilty of homicide and had been allowed to return home was 
permitted to take part in any festival of Ale. During such a 
festival he had either to absent himself from the town or else sit 
on a platform, as contact of his person with the ground was 
regarded as a pollution of the Earth-deity. No one would eat 
in the company of a murderer, and a murderer's wife abandoned 


The procedure in cases of theft varied according to the 
nature of the article stolen, and according to whether the theft 
had been committed within or without the kinship group. But 
the procedure in one town might differ considerably from that in 

If a man stole any article of property from a member of 
his own kinship group the owner of the property might merely 
warn the thief and take no further steps. Or he might report the 
theft to the elders, who would warn the thief and possibly order 
him to be tied up for several days without food. If the thief 
had committed similar thefts before, the elders might direct 
that he should be sold as a slave to the Aro. 

In many localities, if a man stole an article from a member 
either of his own kinship or local group, he was merely subjected 
to ridicule and contempt. When people met him on the road they 
would say Uu ! " Thief ! " 2 If he was the holder of a title he would 
no longer be accorded any share of dues received. Even if he 
repeated his offence he might not (in some groups) be sold, on 

1 It was not uncommon (e.g. at Nengwe) for the brother of a murderer to 
hang himself as a substitute, on the ground that the murderer was a better 
man than himself ! 

* For some offences a culprit might be sung through the town by one of the 

222 C. K. MEEK 

the ground that in former times an epidemic had invaded the 
group as a consequence of selling a close kinsman. 

But one caught red-handed stealing from a member of another 
local group or quarter was usually accorded different treatment 
he was sold automatically by the owner of the stolen property. 
Under certain circumstances he was allowed to redeem himself. 
For if on some previous occasion a man of the thief's kindred 
had caught a man of the other kindred in the act of stealing his 
property, and had refrained from selling him, then it was 
incumbent on the victim's kindred in the present case to act 
with similar generosity. 

Space does not permit of any detailed account of the legal 
procedure in offences such as assault, adultery, the use of black 
magic, or other " abominable " acts. It may, however, be 
noted that, while adultery within the kinship group was an 
" abomination " which necessitated public condemnation and a 
ritual purification, adultery outside the kinship group was a 
private injury with which the general public had usually no 
concern. But an adulterer was liable to be assaulted by the 
injured husband, and this might lead to a state of war between 
two groups. Or, if the adulterer refused to pay compensation 
to the husband, the members of the latter's group might violate 
women belonging to the adulterer's group, as opportunity 
occurred, until public peace became so endangered that the 
elders of the whole village-area found it necessary to intervene. 

Twins, children born with teeth, children born with hand 
or foot first, cripples, and children who cut the upper before 
the lower teeth, were destroyed or handed over to Aro traders. 
A child who was unable to walk before he had reached the age 
of three was regarded as having committed an offence against 
Ale in his former life, and was destroyed or sold. A girl who 
donned a cloth like a male, or menstruated before she had taken to 
wearing a cloth, was also handed over to Aro traders. Her 
relatives and friends would wail on hearing the news, and four 
days after the girl's departure her mother would shave her 
head ; for an evil thing had fallen on her head and had to be 

Disputes about land were, and still are, a common source 
of fighting, which may continue for a considerable time before 
the matter is finally threshed out in an assembly of elders. In 
olden days land disputes between individuals of the same group 
were commonly referred to one of the companies of warriors or 
head-getters, to whom the winner of the case paid a fee. This 
privilege of the warriors was considered _an inducement to 
young men to acquit themselves bravely in battle. 

The decisions of judges were not always tamely accepted. 
An unsuccessful litigant might dispute the decision and call on 

IBO LAW 223 

the judges to swear finally on their ofgs that their decision 
was in accordance with precedent ; or he might leave the 
assembly shouting out that he would not abide by the decision. 
In such a case the elders would proceed to his house on the 
following day, and on arrival would keep tapping the ground with 
their staves. This would usually cause the man serious alarm, 
and he would ask them to desist, promising to carry out their 
behests. But as the conduct of such a one had been an insult 
to Ale and the ancestors, he would be called on to perform a rite 
known as Imfojo Ale, or " The appeasing of the Anger of Ale ". 

Meetings held to decide disputes frequently ended in an 
uproar or a fight, and the dispute might drag on for years. In 
other cases the evidence might be so inconclusive that the elders 
would direct the disputants to take their case to some distant 
oracle, such as the so-called " Long Juju " at Aro Chuku. In 
such cases the loser of the suit might be sold into slavery by the 
priests of the oracle, or if allowed to return home would have 
to pay heavy damages to the winner. 


Laws were passed in an assembly of all the elders of the 
town, and were sometimes given formal validity by a sacrifice 
to Ale or some other deity. Thus, if it became apparent that 
market brawls were becoming frequent and likely to lead to 
murder and intra-kindred or intra-quarter fighting, the elders 
of the town might meet together and decide that, if anyone in 
future engaged in fighting in the market, he should be heavily 
fined. Having arrived at this decision they would buy a goat 
and take it to the priest of Ale, who, holding the goat by a rope, 
would say, " Ale, the elders of the town have brought this goat 
to you in order to inform you of their wishes touching the market. 
They say that it is not their desire that fights should occur in 
the market, lest this should lead to loss of life. Ale, it is not 
your desire that men should kill one another, as we are your 
children. They declare that if anyone breaks this rule he shall 
pay a fine of fourteen currency rods, and they ask you, Ale, to 
enforce this law by dealing with anyone who refuses to pay this 
tine. Ale, when the elders call upon you (to assist them in dealing 
with a law-breaker) do you answer their call (by bringing mis- 
fortune upon him)/' He would then turn to the elders and say, 
" Is not this your wish ? " They would all reply, " Ale, this is 
our wish/' The priest would then kill the goat, and as he put 
the knife to the goat's throat would say, " Take the life of this 
goat and spare our lives/' The flesh of the goat would be cooked 
and divided, and morsels of the heart, liver, and kidneys would 
be deposited by the priest on the cultus-symbol. 

224 C. K. MEEK 

The elders would then go home, and each would inform the 
members of his kindred of the passing of the law. If anyone 
subsequently broke the law he would be arrested by young men 
and handed over to the head of his kindred, who would be 
instructed to collect the fine and bring it to the market on the 
following market-day. On that day the elders would walk round 
the market beating their matchets and saying, "Fellow-towns- 
men, come and take what is yours/' The head of the culprit's 
kindred would then hand the fourteen rods to the senior elder, 
who would say, " Fellow-townsmen, you have seen that the fine 
has been paid." They would reply, " We have. Let it be handed 
over to the keeper of fines." The rods would then be handed 
to a man delegated by the elders to receive fines and hold them 
until they were required for some general sacrifice. The culprit 
would be escorted by the elders and Ale priests to the shrine of 
Ale. He would hand a pot of palm-wine to the priest and then 
squat down before the cultus-symbol. The priest would pour 
a little of the wine into a buffalo-horn and pass the horn round 
the culprit's head, saying, " Ale, I and the elders of the town 
have brought this man before you to tell you that he has paid 
his fine for ' breaking ' your market. He has brought this wine 
to appease your wrath. Pursue him not. A man's child may offend 
his father, but he is forgiven when he repents." He would then 
pour the libation, and the remainder of the wine would be drunk 
by all present, the culprit included. 

The legal sanction was not always Ale. When a law was made 
the elders might call on the priest of any cult to bring some 
material object from the shrine. The priests and elders would 
then say, " We have made such and such a law. If anyone 
breaks this law may this spirit kill that person." The priest would 
then strike the ground with the object. If the law was broken 
the punishment might be left to the spirits. But the law-breaker 
would forestall punishment by going to the priest, who would 
perform sacrifice on the man's behalf, saying, " So-and-so admits 
that he has gone against you and he comes now to redeem him- 

In some cases rules would be made without any religious 
sanction. Thus the elders might announce in the market that 
wood was not to be cut in a certain area under the penalty of 
a fine of one goat. If a man was reported for breaking this rule, 
the elders would send young men l to catch a goat from his 
kindred or local group. If the accused redeemed the goat the 
money obtained was divided out among the elders and the matter 
ended. But if he did not redeem it, the goat would be sold or 
killed, and if the accused lost his case he would be called on to 
pay two goats to the owner of the goat. If the accused won his 

1 i.e. an age-grade or group of age-grades. 

1BO LAW 223 

case, his accuser had to pay the cost of the two goats. If the 
accused was a woman, her fine was payable by her husband or 
son. But in some towns her fine was payable by her parents 
through the person who had acted as middleman when her 
marriage had been arranged. 

Other instances of legislation were (a) that no one should 
visit a neighbouring town during an epidemic, and (b) that 
women should not visit the market of an unfriendly town. The 
elders might post young men on the roads to see that the rules 
were observed, and the young men were authorized to confiscate 
the property of anyone who attempted to break the rules. Rules 
might also be made forbidding the cutting of sticks (to be used 
for training yam tendrils) before a certain date. 

In some cases an age-grade or group of age-grades might take 
the initiative in making rules. Thus, if it became apparent that 
stealing was on the increase, a group of age-grades might meet 
and decide that the penalties for stealing must be increased, 
and their decision would be announced to and accepted by the 
elders. Or an age-grade group might meet to fix the local price 
of palm-wine, or standardize the rate of the bride-price or rents 
chargeable for land. 

This paper may be concluded by a few remarks on the changes 
in legal conceptions and practice which have occurred as a result 
of British Administration and direct contact with Western 

When the British Government assumed the administration 
of the country, district Native Courts were established. This 
was a necessary step towards bringing the country under proper 
control and putting an end to practices which were considered 
inhuman or incompatible with modern civilization. The Native 
Courts were encouraged to administer native law as far as possible, 
but as most of the old legal sanctions now became illegal the 
native law administered in the Native Courts became a shadow 
of its former self. The elders, moreover, of the kindred, village, 
and village-area, were deprived of their judicial functions and 
in consequence lost much of their authority. The Native Courts 
in fact acted as a disruptive agent on the social structure. 

Recently, however, the Government, after close examination 
of the ancient system, has sought to restore the power of the 
elders by encouraging them to settle minor cases locally, and by 
giving formal recognition to the village-area councils. There is 
a general policy of decentralization, and the old district courts 
are being replaced, wherever possible, by " clan " courts. The 
personnel of the Native Courts has been enlarged so as to include 
as far as possible all the most important elders of each local group. 
A complete return, however, to the old system, by which each 
village-area, or even village, recognized no higher authority than 

226 C. K. MEEK 

itself, would be impracticable, and distasteful also to the people, 
who demand a higher form of central authority than formerly 
existed, having acquired a wider sense of solidarity. Nor is there 
any general desire for a complete return to the old forms of legal 
procedure, even were this permissible. For the younger generation 
has lost faith in many of the old legal sanctions, as a result of 
the rapid spread of Christianity. It is said with truth that the 
younger people no longer obey their elders as before, and the 
blame for this is often laid at the door of the Government. But 
the real reasons are religious and economic. Children who have 
become Christians are often compelled to disagree with their 
pagan parents, and to refuse to take part in practices which 
they have been taught to regard as heathen. Many of them, 
moreover, leave their homes for long periods in search of work, 
and live lives of freedom from the numerous restraints imposed 
in their own homes. Such tend to degenerate in character, and 
when they return home they find it difficult to resume their 
former life, more especially as they have acquired new wants 
which cannot be satisfied in their parent village. 

But the extraordinary natural adaptability of the Ibo should 
enable them to surmount most of the difficulties of the present 
period of transition. 




Much of our information about early Rome comes to us 
through Greek writers ; and it seems certain that from the second 
century B.C. at least, Greek writers had found the history of 
Rome peculiarly interesting, because it seemed to reflect in 
many ways the earlier history of their own city-states ; Rome, 
indeed, appeared to them a " most Hellenic city ". It is likely 
that such resemblances were exaggerated, but not that they were 
wholly invented ; and we may still use Greek analogies helpfully 
in reconstructing early Roman history, provided that we realize 
what we are doing. 

Rome seems to have had an abnormal structure and abnormal 
procedure from the first, but its abnormalities need not be 
exaggerated any more than its resemblances to Greek city-states. 
Its traditional origin in a fortuitous coalition of exiled and broken 
men has its parallels, in the synoikismos or " agreement to keep 
house together ", which had been giving birth to Greek city- 
states in the " migration period " of the Aegean world ; in its 
inclusion of heterogeneous elements of population ; in the strict 
monopoly of the privileges of citizenship by those co-partners ; 
and in the reserve-power to admit subsequently to co-partnership 
either individuals, or families, or even larger groups, who were 
deemed, for whatever reason, to be of the " right sort ", a public 
right as carefully guarded as was the complementary reserve- 
power to expel (or as Cicero frankly says, " exterminate " x ) 
a co-partner who became a public nuisance. The foundation 
legend of Ephesus, 2 the incorporation of Minyan refugees at 
Sparta, 3 and the family histories of some great Athenians 4 
Pisistratus, Miltiades, Isagoras, Clisthenes and Pericles, and 
the Gephyraeans are examples to compare with Rome's successive 
inclusion of whole groups of clans after the conquest of Alba 
under the third king, Tullus Hostilius ; after that of Politoria 
under Ancus Martius ; again under the Elder Tarquin ; and 

1 Exterminare is a favourite word with Cicero, and probably his own transla- 
tion of (fopiciv, but exterminus ito was good Tertullian-slang for "Go to the 
devil " (Carm. de Sodom, 3), and Columella (9, 15, 2) uses it for expelling drones 
from a hive, a neat political metaphor. 

8 Stephannus Byz., s.v. Btwa. 

8 Herodotus, iv, 145. 

4 Herodotus, v, 65, 66 ; vi, 35 ; vi, 131 ; v, 57. 


228 J. L. MYRES 

again in the incorporation of the Claudian house in the first 
year of the Republic. 1 Sometimes these new corporators were 
imposed on the Roman corporation by a king, or later by a 
lectio conducted by a censor ; but the patres could co-opt the heads 
of acceptable clans. 2 

Conversely, side by side with Roman gentes promoted early 
to patrician status, and acquiring thereby eligibility for public 
office and representation in the Senate by their headman, there 
were other families who, like the Octavia gens, had " passed over 
to the plebs " after being patrician. How or why this happened 
is not clear. Diminution of numbers did not disqualify, though 
the gens Fabia lost 4,000 men at the Cremera battle and only one 
member survived. But loss of political influence and prestige 
probably did lead to effacement of some families as well as the 
promotion of others at the revisions of the Senate roll, which 
were fairly frequent. As a first element, then, in an imperfectly 
enfranchised populace within the citizen-community of Rome, 
we have original corporator-clans which had lapsed from " free 
and equal " enjoyment of the fullest rights of citizenship. Of 
the so-called " lesser clans " (minor es gentes) we do not know 
enough to decide whether they mark a stepping-stone also of 
degradation, as they certainly did of promotion from plebeian 
to full patrician standing. 

Further, from the details of the incorporation of Alba and 
Politoria in Rome, it appears that these other Latin cities had, 
like Rome, a fully qualified inner group of corporator-clans, 
and an outer mass of citizens ; and it was as natural civitatem 
dare plebi, assimilating the plebeians of Alba to the plebs of 
Rome, as it was primores in patres legere and thereby include the 
families that were patrician (such as the Tullii, Servilii, Quinctii) 
among the Roman patres. 3 And this occurred on a large scale : 
" the number of the citizens," Livy says, 4 " was doubled." 
In Greece such absorption of one city-state into another is very 
rare ; in early times there is the coalescence of pre-Dorian Corinth 
with the Dorian invaders camped on the Solygeian Ridge, 5 
and there are the Hellenistic amalgamations of Medeon and 
Stiris and of Olymos and Labranda 6 ; but in none of these is 
there record of a difference of status within either of the popula- 
tions concerned. 

These early Latin incorporations are of interest because they 
show (i) that Rome's plebs was believed to be traceable back 
far into the regal period, (ii) that to have such a plebs was not 

1 Livy, i, 28-30 (Alba), 33 (Politoria), 34-5 (Tarquin and others), ii, 16 
(Claudia gens), 

2 Livy, iv, 4. 8 Livy, i, 28-30. Livy, i, 30. 
* Thucydides, iv, 42. 

6 Lebas-Waddington, Voyage archeologique (1868-1877), inscriptions No. 335 
(Medeon and Stiris) ; 336 (Olymos and Labranda.) 


a peculiarity of Rome but common, if not normal, in Latium. 
How these observations are to be reconciled with the theory 
of a conquest of Rome by Sabine invaders, either before or after 
an Etruscan domination, it is for the supporters of those views 
to suggest. On the other hand, it would seem that those who have 
noted analogies between the Roman plebs and incompletely 
enfranchised elements in Greek city-states have been comparing, 
in Rome as in Greece, not an anomalous feature but one that was 
normal at a certain stage of civic development. Aristotle certainly 
refers to it as if it were common, and prescribes a remedy. 1 
The close limitation of full citizenship to patrician family-groups 
was thus compatible, at Rome as in Greek city-states, with the 
co-existence of other sorts of residents who were free-men and 
participated in some of the functions of citizenship, including 
both privileges and duties. Who were these " Plebeians " ? 

First, there was what Hebrew Law described in Israel as 
the " stranger within thy gates ", 2 alien-born but accepted as 
an inalienable member of one of the privileged family-groups. 
For him that group, through its pater-familias, was responsible 
as for its own children ; on him could be conferred, for example, 
possession of a plot of the family land ; from him, in return, 
could be claimed personal services and military aid. 3 Some of 
these clientes had always been free-born ; but slaves who had 
received (or had bought) their freedom, and the descendants of 
such freedmen, remained in a relation to their former owner 
and his family that was practically identical with clientela. 
The clientes certainly were an important element in the Roman 
plebs. Mommscn thought they were co-extensive with it ; but 
there is an early occasion when a plebeian revolution miscarried 
because the patricians used their clientes as pickets and strike- 
breakers. 4 So, too, in 465 B.C. the plebs abstained from the consular 
elections like the Venezelists in Greece in 1916 but the patres 
and their clientes attended, voted, and carried their candidates. 

A great Roman family had thus a large body of retainers at 
its disposal, whose exclusion from the public rights of citizen- 
ship was in great measure compensated by the protection of 
their patronus. If a client of the Claudii or the Cornelii was in 
trouble with a Roman magistrate, it was not to any plebeian 

1 Aristotle, Politics, iii, 2, 12756. 

2 Exodus, xx, 10 ; Deuteronomy, i, 16, and often ; for their legal equalit 
Leviticus, xvi, 29 : " One law shall be to him that is homeborn and to the 
stranger," cf. xxiv, 22. 

3 Authorities in Mommsen, Staatsrecht, iii, 54 ; von Premerstein in Pauly- 
Wissowa, Realencycl,, iv, 23 ff ; s.v. clientela. 

4 Livy, ii, 35, absterrendo singulos a coitionibus conciliisque. Cicero (de 
Republica, ii, 9, 16) certainly thought that every original plebeius had been 
assigned by the " founder " of Rome to some gens as one of its clientes ; 
and Dionysius (ii, 9) says (of later times, presumably) that each cliens had to 
choose his patronus. 

230 J. L. MYRES 

tribune that he applied for auxilium, any more than a vassal 
of the " king-maker " Earl of Warwick sought help from any 
bishop or knight of the shire. 

Secondly, there were free residents at first of more transitory 
habit citizens of some other state whose business, or exiled 
leisure, had brought them to Rome and kept them there as 
" fellow-inhabitants " with the corporator clans paroikoi and 
metoikoi as they were commonly called in Greece on customary 
terms of poll-tax, house-tax, market-tax, and the like. In Rome, 
moreover, from very early times, citizens of any other town of 
the Latin League had treaty right (ius exulandi) to migrate 
permanently to Rome, and these " outlanders " had all the 
" private rights " of citizenship, such as intermarriage, land- 
ownership, access to the markets and courts of law, which were 
not reserved to members of patrician corporator-clans. There 
was probably nothing to prevent a Latin (or any other) " out- 
lander " from being accepted as a client of a patrician family, 
but there were many residents of Rome who had not fared so, 
but formed citizen-families of their own, plebeiae gentes, only 
differing from patriciae gentes in the lack of certain " public 
rights " of citizenship access to the old meeting of the corporator- 
clans \comitia curiata), eligibility for public office, and (for what 
it was worth) the right to marry into any of the families so 
privileged, with the mystical rite prescribed for such unions. 

Whether the members of plebeian gentes were admitted to 
the ancient comitia curiata is not quite certain, nor even whether 
clientes attended and voted as members of the gens to which 
they belonged. But this uncertainty matters less, because there 
is no doubt that by the Servian Reforms all plebeians of full 
age were enrolled in the new military companies (centuriae) 
and attended and voted in the comitia centuriata. 1 For all clientes 
were enrolled, individually and independent of the patrician 
members of the same gens, in that centuria to which they were 
assigned by their wealth, not by their birth. From this point 
onwards, at all events, all plebeians, whatever their origin, were 
citizens of Rome, in respect of membership of the assembly 
that elected magistrates, adopted laws, and was the court of 
appeal against capital sentences ; and all were alike liable to 
military service, except those capite censi who were disqualified 
by sheer poverty (not by alien birth) from " bearing arms " 
at all. 

Thirdly, it has been suggested, in modern times, that the 
Roman state came into being by an act of conquest which 
superimposed the regime of a band of Sabellian invaders on the 
survivors of the previous occupants of this part of Latium. That 
the Romans should have been called Romani, with termination 

1 Livy, i, 43. 


-ni, like the Sabini, Frentani, Piceni, and other highlanders, 
whereas their language the lingua Latino, belongs to the group 
of dialects spoken by tribes whose names end in -ci, is certainly 
an anomaly. But there is too good evidence for repeated 
' admissions of previously unprivileged families into the governing 
class, both severally and in large groups, for this consideration 
to have much weight in arguments about the relation between 
Plebeians and Patricians in later regal or early republican times. 
And in the absence of literary or archaeological evidence for 
such a conquest as is inferred from anomalies of language, it 
is for the philologists to decide whether this conquest occurred 
before the foundation of Rome as a community of corporator- 
families, or during the early regal period, or under the Etruscan 
domination, or after the expulsion of the Tarquin dynasty. 
They may date their own invention as they please. There were 
Sabine gentes in Rome, from the Sabellian-speaking highland, 
and there were people who buried their dead, as well as more 
numerous people who burned them ; but they shared the same 
cemetery, as Sabine and Latin marketed and talked politics in 
the same forum Romanum ; and it is probably not an accident 
that the first four kings are alternately Latin and Sabine. If, 
as some suppose, the burials are later than the burnings, they 
are nevertheless, on the same authority, themselves older than 
the traditional date for Rome's foundation. 1 

Fourthly, however, there is another, and historically datcable, 
crisis in the early history of Rome, which provided a quite different 
occasion for great increase in the less-privileged population. 
Whereas the first four kings in the traditional history are alter- 
nately Latin and Sabine, the fifth and the seventh are Etruscans, 
and the sixth, Scrvius Tullius, though a Latin himself, rose to 
power at the court of the Elder Tarquin. That he belonged to 
a plebeian gens is the less important, because in this he had been 
anticipated by the third and fourth kings, Hostilius and Marcius. 

This Etruscan domination has been generally recognized as 
an incident in that southward expansion which culminated 
between the Etruscan land-attack on Cumae in Campania in 
524 B.C., and the Etruscan naval defeat off the same city in 
474 B.C. That the expulsion of the second Tarquin was effected 
by a coalition of the Latin and Sabine aristocracies is also 
probable ; thenceforth there were to be two consuls, and other 
dual magistracies are common afterwards. 

There is, however, another aspect to the later monarchy. 
It was the usurpation of power by a foreign adventurer, who 

1 Stuart Jones, Cambridge Ancient History (1928), vii, 354-6, thinks that the 
burials succeed the burnings : Randall-Maclver, Villanovans and Etruscans 
(1924), 74-8, assigns them to the same continuous period (tenth to seventh 

232 J. L. MYRES 

boasted of his transference of domicile and claimed popular 
support on that ground. 1 The whole story is that of one of those 
popular leaders who was familiarly known as tyrannoi in Greek 
city-states at this period, and it has been enriched from the 
Greek stock of tyrant-anecdotes. But, however enhanced, this 
Roman tyranny seems to be an historic fact ; and we, too, may 
safely supplement and interpret from the better-known tyrannies 
of Greece. The public works, the general prosperity and expansion 
of Rome, no less than the democratic reforms, attributed to the 
Tarquin dynasty, presume a great increase in the number of 
resident aliens ; and though no doubt some of these came, or 
remained, as clientes of Latin or Sabine families, most of them 
were attracted by the tyranny itself. They worked for the 
tyrant, and enjoyed his " patronage ", legal as well as economic. 

An important political act of the last king of Rome is described 
by Dionysius as a treaty of equal citizenship between Rome and 
its neighbour, Gabii ; the original document was preserved 
till Dionysius' time. There need be no doubt of the fact ; especially 
as the privilege it created does not go far beyond the right to 
exchange one allegiance for another, which every Latin had under 
the terms of the League's treaty with Rome. But if a citizen of 
Gabii became a citizen of Rome when he entered the gates of 
the city, or presented himself for registration of domicile, what 
was his position in the event of any disturbance in the relations 
between Rome and Gabii during his residence in Rome, or in 
the event of his ceasing (by civil dissension or otherwise) to 
enjoy the dormant citizenship of Gabii which had been the ground 
of his acceptance in Rome ? The case need not have been common ; 
but it adds one more to the sources of a plebeian populace in 
a city with such varied foreign connections as are demonstrable 
for Rome. Moreover, it adds force to the general statement 
which Dionysius puts into the mouth of L. Junius Brutus at 
the Great Secession, that the policy of the last three kings had 
been democratic. 2 

While a general distinction is rightly drawn between the 
doings of the last three kings and those of the first four, those 
earlier kings had in some ways anticipated the later. Hostilius 
and Marcius were plebeians, like Servius Tullius ; Numa 
Pompilius was a Sabine immigrant, as the Elder Tarquin was 
an Etruscan. All alike even the peaceable Numa were war- 
lords ; and the mode of their appointment, or legitimation, by 
the assembly of heads of clans was conserved in the ritual of 
creating a dictator under the Republic. Archaeological and 
traditional data, and even the discrepant traditions, are reconciled 
customarily by supposing that the traditional " Foundation 
of Rome " by Romulus in 753 B.C. represents some fresh fact in 

1 Livy, i, 34-5. 2 Dionysius, vi, 73. 


the far longer history of the Latin peoples. What if (comparing 
the political development of Rome with that of Greek city- 
states) the establishment of the kingship and the flocking of 
outcast men on to the Palatine, should be found to correspond 
with a Greek tyranny, and the whole duration of the monarchy 
to be an interregnum in a close oligarchy of corporator-clans, 
only terminated by a rally of the patres, sinking hereditary 
differences to expel the king and re-establish a government 
as nearly normal as the damnosa hereditas of a kingless populace 
permitted ? x 

Having examined elsewhere 2 the contemporary experience 
of Athens under the tyranny of Pisistratus, I refer to this parallel 
incident here, only to compare in each instance the political 
effects of the expulsion of the tyrant. For in Athens, as in Rome, 
the political extinction of a patron did not involve the annihilation 
of his clients. But what was now their political status ? At 
Athens, as in Rome, the tyrant regime had lasted in to the second 
generation. Its adherents had acquired vested interests that 
could not be denied to its victims. Moreover, as we have seen, 
the Servian reforms had imposed on all registered residents, 
except the very poor, the duty of military service and the liability 
to be taxed, and had conceded the right to vote in elections and 
public business however this may have been restricted in practice 
by centuriate procedure. These ex-clients of the Tarquin house 
were indisputably citizens of Rome ; but being without patron, 
they were now without remedy on the numerous occasions for 
oppression which the laws of debt and of military service offered. 
They were plebeii simply, no longer clientes of anyone. 3 

In Athens, if we may trust the brief and graphic story of 
Herodotus, 4 two remedies were tried in succession : Cleisthenes 
" first attached to his own company " the populace whose 
grievances he would remedy ; only " later " did he proceed to 
a complete regrouping of the citizen-body on the sole qualification 
of residence and loyal goodwill. Thenceforward it was a breach 
of good manners to call attention to a man's tribal antecedents : 
in the assembly and in the courts all were alike Athena's people. 
What kind of " company " 5 it was, to which Cleisthenes had first 
attempted to " attach the populace ", Herodotus does not say ; 

1 Professor H. J. Rose has suggested to me that the flamen in Rome may 
have been a pre-regal priest-king. 

2 Melanges Glotz (Paris, 1932), ii, 657-666, "Cleisthenes in Herodotus." 

8 Stuart Jones, Cambridge Ancient History, vii, 421, assumes that whenever 
a patrician gens died out, its clientes were simply merged in the patronless plebs. 

4 Herodotus, v, 66-9 ; Aristotle, Politics, iii, 2-3, 12756; Constitution of 
Athens, 20-22 and 41. 

6 The word translated " company " (ercupela) was originally quite colourless, 
though at the end of the fifth century it acquired the special meaning of a political 
" cell " for subversive talk and action. Thucydides, iii, 82, cf. viii, 65 (eratpot 
" comrades " in the same political sense). 

234 J- L- MYRES 

but it was an obvious and tempting solution of the difficulty 
for the great Alcmaeonid house, to which Cleisthenes belonged, 
to offer its " patronage " to the patronless clients of the banished 
Pisistratidae, in addition to its own numerous " company " 
of adherents ; and, indeed, Cleisthenes himself is described as 
having been at a certain point " leader and patron 1 ' 1 of the 
populace. This device, however, obviously only replaced 
Pisistratid tyranny by Alcmaeonid, and there was a fierce party- 
struggle between the Alcmaeonid house, so reinforced, and its 
political rivals. But, on second thoughts, good sense and (may 
we add) the jealousy between the great Athenian houses 
rejected that " first " remedy, and it was the Alcmaeonid leader 
himself who proposed an alternative. If the patronless ones 
were not to be clients of the Alcmaeonid house, what need had 
they of a patron at all ? On his own merits, let every " stranger 
within the gates ", like every citizen of Athens, enjoy what 
Athenian citizenship had to offer. And to ensure equality of 
status, as well as of privilege, the older body-politic and its 
assembly, which had hitherto been constituted by traditional 
groups of corporator-clans, was henceforth to include all registered 
residents in the existing " townships " (demes) of Attica, 
irrespective of family ties or ancient Attic descent. It is especially 
noted, 2 though the precise connection between the words is not 
clear, that this change enfranchised aliens who had been " slaves " 
and " metics ", and in either event not of Attic origin. 

Turn now to the plebieans of Rome. Here the trouble was 
that, after the expulsion of the Tarquins, there was a mob of 
nominal citizens whose rights were nugatory because there was 
no one interested to enforce them, not against the law but against 
fellow-citizens, either in administrative office or before a court 
of law. That it was this lack of patron that was the practical 
disability is clear from two incidents, (i) Even after the Great 
Secession, in the days of Coriolanus, it was possible to split the 
mass of the plebs, and to use the clients as pickets and strike- 
breakers, 3 " scaring individuals away from meetings and con- 
ferences "; and (2) even before the Secession, when the measure 
of appeasement proposed by the dictator Servilius was rejected, 
he warned the Senate that " the day was near when they would 
long that the Roman plebs had patrons like himself ". This 
suggests that the question had already been asked, how the 
plebeians might be provided with patrons, and that Valerius 
had in some sense constituted himself their patron. We have, 
however, to remember that the word patronus was commonly 

1 The word -npoardr^ applied to Cleisthenes in Aristotle, Constitution of 
Athens, 20, 4, is regularly used later to translate the Latin patronus. 

2 Aristotle, Politics, iii, 2, 1275&, 37. 
8 Livy, ii, 35, see n. 4, p. 229 above. 


used in Latin to translate the Greek word prostates (Trpocrrar^?), 
and that prostates may mean either the legal patronus or, more 
generally, any sort of champion. 1 But this in turn makes it all 
the more likely that Roman historians, compiling from Greek 
writers, may have missed the more specific force of prostates, 
and deprived us of passages in which it was patronage not political 
leadership that was meant. Clearly it was as inadmissible in 
Rome that any one great house, the Claudii or the Valerii, should 
annex to itself all patronless clients in Rome, as it was in Athens 
that the Alcmaeonid house should " attach to its own company " 
the populace left patronless by the Pisistratidae. But what was 
the alternative ? Just this : an agreement or contract a lex 
in its primitive meaning, a binding bargain between the 
Patrician corporator-clans and the patronless plebs, that the 
plebs should itself create unto itself official patrons, qualified 
to render the same effective " help " as the head of any great 
house in Rome habitually rendered to his own clients ; literally 
to " intervene " (intercedere) between any plebian and any fellow- 
citizen or magistrate intent on impeding his personal freedom ; 
to rally the rest of his plebeian " clients ", in case of need, to 
give effect to his " intervention " ; and literally to keep " open 
house ", like a great Roman noble, to shelter those who ran to 
him for protection. The fictitious " patron " was to be as literally 
" inviolable " in the streets of Rome as the head of the Claudian 
or the Valerian house was inviolable in the majesty of his person 
and position ; he was literally to " take his seat " in the Senate, 
though not a member of it and though he had to bring his own 
wooden stool to sit on and, when there, he was to be competent 
to dissent from any decision of Consul or Senate ; all men knowing 
that without his concurrence such decision found no observance 
among his " company ", the hitherto patronless men, an over- 
whelming majority. 

The precise conditions, on which the Great Secession was 
ended, are not preserved. We can only infer them from later 
descriptions of their effect : 

(1) Plebeians were to have functionaries of their own choosing ; 
yet these were never " magistrates of the Roman People " and 
are always carefully distinguished from the regular officers 
of state ; they had no imperium, and consequently no executive 
or judicial function, nor could they call a deliberative assembly. 
At most they could gather and address a crowd, and it was only 
gradually that their concio became respected as a concilium plebis. 

(2) No member of the Senate, nor any citizen qualified to 
be admitted to it, should hold this function ; for that, in Athenian 
phrase, would be " attaching the populace to his own company" : 

1 Thucydides, iii, 72, 82 ; iv, 66, applies -npoardr^ rov 8-ijfiov to the political 
leader of the democratic party. 

236 J. L. MYRES 

so at the end of his year his populace of clients found another 
patronus. The end, indeed, of the whole bargain was near, when 
it was conceived possible that a protector of the plebs should 
be re-elected ; it meant a return to tyranny. 

(3) The specific function of the new patronus was " to bring 
help against the consuls ", to prevent administrative maltreat- 
ment of a patronless individual by violence or imprisonment 
in cases, that is, where law is inoperative because it cannot act 
in time ; or act at all, to restrain its own executive. 

(4) At first, apparently, these new functionaries were two 
for the same reason that there were two consuls ; but they were 
given two assessors, probably to confront the two quaestor es 
who helped the consuls in domestic and especially in financial 
administration ; and it was probably from these that the patron- 
less man suffered worst, especially if he were of foreign origin. 
The Greek equivalent of aedilis, too, is eloquent from the point 
of view of the "under dog": to the corporator-clans he was 
"commissioner of buildings and grounds'*, the dispenser 
of contracts and therefore of employment ; to the Greekling in 
the forum or on the quay he was agoranomos (dyopav6fjio$), 
" clerk of the market ", and looked after garbage and short-weight. 

(5) 'Dionysius adds that the new functionaries were appointed 
by the comitia curiata, to which it may be doubted whether all 
or any plebeians were admitted. It is clear, therefore, that in 
some sense they were made as if they had been members of a 
curia. Is it too much to suggest that by a legal fiction they were 
created " heads of houses " of an anonymous curia or gens ; 
as the dean of #<w-collegiate students ranked with the deans 
of colleges in the " Ancient House " at Oxford ? But if, as seems 
likely, the curiae were themselves originally local groupings of 
the corporator-gtfftfcs, which determined the parade-state of 
the comitia curiata, it may be that the plebeians' votes in these 
elections also were taken curiatim. 1 

(6) The new plebeian functionaries were as naturally nick- 
named tribuni, as the chief magistrates whom they were to confront 
came to be called consules. The two original praetor es or " war- 
lords " were called consules because they sat and acted together. 
The plebeian patroni came to be known as tribuni another 
adjectival form because each kept open-door in his own " ward " 
(tribus) of the city, and among his own " wardsmen " (tributes). 
That the local " tribes " were originally meant, cannot be proved, 
but does not affect the fact that the tribuni were distributed 
where they would best " intervene " and " bring aid ". There 
were, however, already hereditary " tribes " in Rome as well as 
residential and territorial, and Varro 2 thought that the primitive 

1 J. S. Reid, Encyclopedia Britannica, s.v. " Tribune. " 

2 Varro, De lingua latina, iv. 


clan-groups Ramnes, Tities, and Luceres were meant ; but 
he had apparently found analogy (which may be a false analogy) 
in those tribuni militum who were leaders of detachments in the 
primitive tribal army. The fact that the original two tribuni 
plebis forthwith co-opted three does not help us much. It 
dissociates them from the military tribunes, who were nine, but 
it does not cohere either with the threefold clan-grouping nor 
with the fourfold urban districts, nor with any known phase of 
the multiplication of tribal districts outside the city. Nor is 
there obvious reason to connect the tribuni plebis with the five 
classes which are never called tribus of the Servian military 
and economic grouping. Perhaps the anomalous total simply 
resulted, as Livy says, from an original two, empowered to add 
to their number, and actually adding three. 1 But in 456 B.C. 
there were already ten, two from each of the five Servian classes. 2 

The subsequent fortunes of the plebs and the tribuni are part 
of the political history of Rome, and do not concern us now. 
What has been attempted here is to discover the reason why the 
problems of the less privileged citizens became urgent at 
a particular moment, as they did, and why a unique remedy 
was adopted for the grievances of clients and patronless plebeians 
alike. For as Dionysius says, 3 what the plebeians demanded 
was " not only relief from their debts, but they asked also for 
some form of help perhaps " 4 (he is translating the auxilium 
which a patron was legally bound to afford to his client) ' ' whereby 
for time to come they shall abide undisturbed " (literally, " not 
tripped up " by unpredictable pitfalls and snags) " for/' he 
adds, " ever since the power 5 of the dictator 6 came along, the 
observance which was the warden of freedom had been undone/' 
referring to the right of appeal on a capital charge. 

(7) The peculiar provision, that the person of a tribune 
was to be inviolable, needs a word of explanation. WhenFustel 
de Coulanges 7 long ago described the tribune as a kind of 
peripatetic altar, he was more nearly right than later scholars 
have been ready to admit. To say, in Roman phrase, that the 
tribunes were " sacrosanct " does not describe more than the 

1 Livy, ii, 33 ; Dionysius, vi, 89, 1. 

2 Livy, iii, 30. s Dionysius, vi, 58, 1. 

4 Dionysius' word {Joij0ia literally means reinforcements called up. By 
Aeschylus, Supplices, 730, Agamemnon, 1349, $OTJ , the " cry " for help itself, is used 
for assistance rendered in battle. Xenophon, Hellenica, vii, 1, 20, uses /foijfleia 
for " auxiliary " troops. 

5 Dionysius' word dpx'n (literally " initiative " " that which makes to begin ") 
is his translation of imperium, that untranslatable word for the " competence " 
of any public officer within the terms of his commission (provincia). I have 
discussed the Greek notion of ap^ in The Political Ideas of the Greeks (1927), 
pp. 80-93. 

6 Compare Cicero, de Republica, ii, 34, contra consulum imperium creates : 
but the dictator's imperium was infinitum. 

1 Fustel de Coulanges, La Cite antique. 

238 J. L. MYRES 

procedure of investing them with an immunity guaranteed by 
a fearsome penalty ; for not only was the assailant of a tribune 
accursed, but every member of the plebs was himself under a vow 
to kill such assailant. 

Dionysius' Greek interpretation puts the matter in another 
aspect. The office is to be Upav Kal aavXov, holy in the sense 
that it is filled with a power or presence ; a sanctuary or asylum 
like a Hebrew " city of refuge ", in the sense that it communi- 
cates this quality or potential to any thing or person that comes 
into contact with it. Dionysius goes on to say that consequently 
the very person of a tribune was holy (Upov as above), and also 
iravayfj "all-hallo wed ", in the sense that they were charged to 
the full with an agos ; and an agos in Greek is at the same time 
a pollution which infects the person who touches what is for- 
bidden, or otherwise breaks any kind of taboo well, the word is 
out ! The tribune, during his year of office, was taboo ; no need 
for Dionysius to explain what that meant ; no need, either, for 
us to explain why it was the bounden duty of every party to 
the institution of such a taboo to obliterate the breaker of it ; 
for they themselves, through his infringement, had incurred 
pollution inexpiable otherwise, and lay " under a curse ", like 
the fanatical Jews " until they had slain Paul ", 1 

The words of Dionysius about the person of a tribune are 
closely parallel to what he says about the standards of the 
Roman legions, which we know to have been images of certain 
animals eagle, wolf, boar, and the like the largest and fiercest 
animals of primeval Italy. To explain why the legionary must 
defend his standard to the death, he calls them 
" most venerable/' and I have suggested elsewhere 2 that 
stands to apx 7 ? as f r example, i/e/iecn? stands to aiSa>? 
is " initiative ", the force or quality that confers activity on 
others, a primum mobile, like Polynesian mana : TI/AT? is the 
recognition by others of the presence of such initiative &pxn in 
any person or thing. A chief has TI/AT? (honour) and gold has 
rlpr} (value) because they get things done, as orenda does among 
the Iroquois. But about the Roman standards Dionysius is 
more explicit still, for (he goes on) " they are regarded as dwelling- 
places of the gods, and holy ". 8 To mishandle a standard is 
to violate an acrvXov, a place that may not be violated ; 
so the Roman standards went into battle like the "Ark of God " 
against the Philistines 4 or as the "sons of ^Eacus " were 
brought from ^Egina to help the Thebans. 6 They brought 

1 Acts, xxiii, 12, dvfdffjLanaav cnvrovs ; " made themselves taboo ". 

* The Political Idea of the Greeks (1927), pp. 84, 86. 

1 Dionysius, vi. * I Samuel, iv, 3 ; vi, 21 ; II, vi, 6-12. 

5 Herodotus, v, 80, cf . the bones of Orestes (i, 67-8), and of Theseus (Plutarch, 
Cimon, 8 ; Theseus, 36), o>? icai rod Oyotajs IT poarartKov TWOS Kai porjOyriKov ; 
" a kind of patronus and one to bring auxilium ". 


the Divine Power itself, or the very person of the hero, into 
the fighting line. 

All this helps us to see why plebeian officers, chosen (so our 
authorities agree) by, for, and from among plebeians, are never- 
theless described as having been appointed by the comitia curiata, 
the " ancient house " of assembly " whither the tribes go up " 
in their groups of clans. For it was from the same " ancient 
house " that the kings, after election by the patres, had been 
endowed by a separate vote of the people, acting curiatim, with 
that imperium which gave their word the force of initiative 
authority : and from the same " ancient house " , thereafter, 
consuls elected in the comitia centuriata received the same imperium 
as the king had held, without which, strictly, they too could not 
function. I have given reasons (in the book already noted) for 
regarding this conferring of imperium as a formality which, 
whatever its origin, had a ritual and (in the general sense) magical 
significance. Like the golden crown, the holy oil, and other rites 
of investiture observed among many peoples, it conferred, as 
Mr. Hocart has shown in his book on Kingship, that " divinity 
that doth hedge a king ". In Rome it could only be conferred 
by an assemblage of the whole people in their curiae, which 
Dionysius ingeniously describes as phratries l ; and we remember 
that in early Athens it had been the phratry which had, for 
example, ultimate responsibility for avenging the killing of one 
of its members. For the phratry was the mystical corporation 
by membership of which a man became an effective citizen of the 
state. So, too, in Rome, it was in the assembly of the curiae that 
the essential being of the state was realized, and efficient for the 
" creation " as men truly said of its magistrates. Whether 
it was the imperium of a consul then, or the sacrosanctitas of a 
tribune, it was in the comitia curiata that it would be rightly 
conferred. 2 

Thus the remedy devised for the grievances of the plebeians 
was not only a quite unusual achievement of political invention, 
but, like many great inventions, it made use of the simplest, 
most obvious, and (above all) the most indisputable means, from 
a category of avoidances such as every Roman, patrician, and 
plebeian alike, was observing every hour of the day. 

1 Dionysius, vi, 89, 1, calls the curiae ^pdrpai, and the votes were taken 
ex generibus hominum. 

2 It was only in 472 B.C. that the election of tribuni plebis was transferred 
to the comitia tributa. As there is no mention afterwards of a lex curiata to 
confer sacrosanctity on tribunes, as it conferred imperium on consuls, it looks as 
if the election of tribunes had by this time been wholly secularized. Yet their 
sacrosanctity remained. 


A New Perspective 

Within the ambit of anthropological discussion the scope 
and aim of an Applied Anthropology has been the last to 
receive any general attention. While the science itself was in 
a formative stage of development, it could hardly have anticipated 
the possibilities or range of its applications. As in every other 
science, so in Anthropology, it is safe to say that in the very 
interest that drove men to its systematized study was implicit 
the need for it in the everyday business of living. 

Few anthropologists have not at times envisaged 
the development of the applications of their special 
study. It has, however, been left to the most recent times for 
any one worker to attempt to formulate an application 
of the synthesized branches of the whole study and history of 
Man ; although previous attempts have rather concentrated 
on the applications of that body of knowledge dealing with the 
laws of heredity and the science of genetics under the name 
of Eugenics. 

Apart from this aspect, confined principally to the physical 
and biological side of the study of Man, there has recently come 
into prominence a desire to apply, on the cultural or psychological 
side, the knowledge gained of the customs and social organization 
of so-called primitive peoples in the administration and control 
of subject races under the tutelage of European Empires. 

Few anthropologists have shown so wide an appreciation of 
the possibilities of development in these aspects of the 
problem as has Dr. C. G. Seligman, who has reviewed under these 
two headings the various cultural and physical problems that are 
most prominent. 2 

Perhaps the first investigator to apply himself systematically 
to the problem of an applied anthropology with particular 
reference to the depopulation of primitive peoples brought 
into contact with an alien civilized culture was the late 
W. H. R. Rivers. In his work the trained psychologist and the 

1 Revised and amplified from a paper read before the Anthropology Section 
of the British Association, London, 1931, and published in Human Biology, 
vol. 4, May, 1932. 

2 See article, " Anthropology, Applied," by C. G. Seligman, in the Encyclo- 
pcedia Britannica, fourteenth edition. 

241 R 


specialized anthropologist gives due weight to the inter- 
dependence of psychological and physical data, often illuminated 
with demographic and statistical verifications. 1 

In his 1931 Presidential Address to the Royal Anthropological 
Institute on " Anthropology, Pure and Applied ", Professor 
Myres discussed in retrospect and prospect the proper functions 
and legitimate aims of the Institute. Previously he has touched 
on the place of anthropological studies among other branches of 
learning, and on the claims made from time to time that 
anthropological research has positive contributions to make to 
national well-being. 

If I encroach again from a somewhat different angle on ground 
well worn, my excuse must be that anthropological themes seem 
to lose their newness as little as Anthropology itself appears 
capable of losing the title, which it has undisputedly held for 
at least sixty years, of being a new science. In this year, 1931, 
Dr. Myres admits that " old prejudices against a new subject 
like Anthropology die hard . . . and systematic provision for 
anthropological studies, like Anthropology itself, which is still 
a very young science, is in its infancy ". 

Should we suspect that an infant which remains for sixty 
years in its early infancy is arrested in its development ? And 
if it is arrested should we suspect lack of nourishment ? 

I do not wish to anticipate the answer, but the question 
remains implicit in what I have to say. Speaking in 1908, on 
" The Scope of Social Anthropology ", Sir James Frazer called 
his subject " comparatively new and its limits still somewhat 
vague ". In the intervening twenty-six years between then 
and now Social Anthropology has claimed increasing, though 
still very inadequate, attention in our Universities, by the 
establishment of Anthropological Departments in some of our 
Dominions and Colonial Dependencies, and by the increasing 
volume of learned works in many departments of the subject. 

If I venture to echo that comment of our great 
pioneer folk-lorist and social anthropologist again to-day, it is 
not because I ignore all the work that has been done. Yet I am 
tempted to repeat the excuse, or accusation, of 1908 and 
1931 with even greater emphasis : the subject is still com- 
paratively new and its limits and scope perhaps vaguer than 
ever before. 


The aim of Social Anthropology remains, consistent with the 
aim of every other science, to discover the general laws to which 
particular facts conform and by which alone they can properly 

1 Cf. particularly The Todas, 1906, and Essays on the Depopulation of 
Melanesia, 1922. 


be explained. In short, it aims at explaining what has happened 
and what is happening in the regulation of human history, 
irrespective of time or place. Consequently it must be prepared 
to be some guide as to how we may best conform to what may 
happen in the future or our profession may be regarded as 
an amiable diversion of no great importance in the affairs of 
everyday life. 

May I then not claim that the scope of Social Anthropology 
can no longer be restricted as it was by Frazer, and is still, 
I think, by Dr. Myres, to the rudimentary phases of human 
society ? That in spite of the limitations the former sets to the 
boundaries of his special studies, we can no longer avoid concern 
with the practical application of its results ? 

The pursuit of our scientific researches into Man's social 
history involves a diagnosis, which leads to a demand for a 
prognosis ; hence to an Applied Science. Applied Anthropology 
has come into being ; not even the clumsy and antiquated 
terminology by which Social Anthropology is supposed to be 
distinguished from Sociology can disguise that fact. Some of 
our French anthropological colleagues at any rate do not attempt 
the distinction, and the school of Emile Durkheim and Marcel 
Mauss call themselves sociologists or anthropologists indifferently ; 
neither do they restrict themselves to the rudimentary phases 
of human society. 

If Anthropology is still a comparatively new science, and we 
seem to infer it chiefly by the relatively slight influence that that 
discipline appears to exercise upon human affairs, and the very 
slow growth of any discernible influence it exerts upon human 
opinion, it is remarkable that it should have remained in its 
infancy for such a very long period. How is it that we are 
still discussing at its cradle, in much the same terms, such an 
early post-natal subject as its future career and development 
its scope and methodology ? 

I may go back, not twenty-six years, but more than twice 
that time, sixty-four years, and invite your attention to the 
discussion of the same subject by a former President of the 
Anthropological Institute. It is, I think, not ancestral 
reverence which makes me think my grandfather's Presidential 
Address in 1870 still curiously relevant. 1 It is perhaps a pity 
that it is so. The terminology that had come to be employed 
in the classification of our subjects he found at least as un- 
satisfactory as I venture to think it is to-day. 

The term Anthropology, which he wished to reserve as the 
most embracing term to cover all Human Biology and Sociology 

1 Address to the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, on 
25th January, 1876, by Lieut. -General A. Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers, President of the 


with their respective subdivisions, together corresponding to 
Constitution and Culture, was then customarily divided into the 
four unsatisfactory departments of Ethnology, Archaeology, 
Anthropology proper, and general works relating to Ethnological 

If we are, after this very long interval, still willing to encumber 
ourselves with such a classification, the empirical, inductive, 
and the applied and dependent branches of our sciences will 
become increasingly divorced, and to some extent sterilized and 
narrowed in outlook. Some were included as our proper study : 
Anthropology proper. Others, as essential to the proper study 
of Man, were driven to seek the shelter of other labels and different 
societies : and were presumably exiled as Anthropology 
" improper ". 

I wish, here, to do no more than suggest that the primary 
classification of Anthropological subjects, instead of the classifica- 
tion by classes and methods of workers, may have been as injurious 
to Anthropology as the polygenetic search for a fixed number of 
primary human races. Were it not for this, would not Eugenics, 
Genetics, Demography, and the study of Populations, and of 
Psychology, have their recognized places as branches of 
Anthropology ? 

It is at least interesting to note that amongst the papers read 
before the Anthropological Institute in 1875 we find four papers 
by Francis Galton dealing with subjects now classified under 
Genetics or Eugenics. They include : A History of Twins ; 
Heredity in Twins ; The Height and Weight of Boys in Town 
and Country Schools. The same President in his summary 
observes : " It is to be hoped we shall not have to wait until 
the principle of heredity has asserted itself in Mr. Galton's 
offspring before we have other contributors to this important 
branch of our studies." In addition we also find a paper on 
Comparative Psychology by Herbert Spencer, and a study of 
Longevity by Sir Duncan Gibb. The infant science had plenty 
of fresh nourishment in those days. 

All science has its birth in Man's desire to control his 
environment or to adapt his needs to its forces by seeking to 
understand them. The early Polynesian navigators, sailing 
in their frail canoes across the Pacific, owed their lives to the 
stars and became astronomers, and they became anatomists 
in the school of anthropophagy because they found human 
flesh sweet to eat. 

No science can long retain the interest or spur the labours 
of its devotees, let alone of its public, unless it can " deliver the 
goods". It must continually supply answers to the ceaseless 
triple question whereby Man seeks illumination along the path 
of survival : " What is happening ; why is it happening ; then 


what should we do ? " For the answers that science may give 
range from replies to the first question to the last, and it is the 
last question which prompts the inquiries which furnish an 
answer to the first. By the time we begin to furnish answers 
to the last question, " What should we do ? ", we have formulated 
an Applied Science. A clear vision of its applications is the 
best discipline in the methodology of a science. Before we can 
observe well, we must know what to look for and why we are 

On these grounds, I venture to think, Francis Galton has a 
foremost place amongst the greatest methodologists of his age, 
and a place that no mere empiricist can aspire to share. For 
this reason, too, we must place the science he named Eugenics 
first in the list of Applied Anthropologies. But the scope of 
Eugenics is far wider than that usually accorded to it : this is 
not surprising since the applications of Anthropology have so 
very recently begun to receive general attention. 

It is curious to reflect that in respect of time far less 
methodical study has been applied to gaining a knowledge of 
the functioning, origin, and nature of human institutions, of the 
decay and survival of races, or of the laws governing the genetical 
transmission of human qualities and defects than, for instance, 
has been applied to the study of zoology and its practical 
applications in the breeding of animals and in farming, and still 
less to making that knowledge widely known. 


The problems of Eugenics are co-extensive with the problems 
of Anthropology. As soon as we begin to diagnose the factors 
controlling the changes, increases, declines and substitution of 
types in the populations and races of the world, we find that 
Constitution and Culture are inextricably mixed. For Evolution 
is a process of adaptation, physical, mental, and cultural, to 
environmental conditions. 

The progress of Anthropology must therefore increasingly 
depend upon the re-synthesis of all its dependent branches, 
biological and cultural, that together mark the changes, 
evolutionary and adaptive, which describe Man, singly and in 
his social setting. The science embraces the Animal, Man, and 
his environment in human populations and the link between 
the two, for his surroundings are continually provoking from him 
new reactions and fresh adaptations. The reactions are cultural, 
but the changes in time from generation to generation are 
constitutional and may be measured in the different rates of 
achievement in adaptation : rates of the elimination and of the 
survival of types. Here Anthropology must seek its verifications 


in the demographic study of populations. 1 But, as Dr. Georg 
Thilenius puts it, Man, the subject of active and passive 
adaptation to fresh surroundings, is further determined by his 
hereditary characteristics, and is paratypically influenced by 
his environment. Thus both culture and heredity determine 
his Constitution : both are factors in mutation and selection. 

Somatic, cultural, and psychic phenomena are thus inter- 
dependently linked in the study of the time changes in Man. 
From this point of view arises the newer conception of the study 
of race, and race changes, or, in the phrase of Sir Arthur Keith, 
of " race formation ". Dr. Thilenius implies a similar dynamic 
conception of race when he says : "To the conception of forms 
was essentially added the further conception with regard to their 
distribution and possible temporal limitation. To-day we share 
Scheidt's view, based on the biological conception that it is 
fundamentally necessary to examine, not merely selected sections 
of the nation, but the whole regional population, in its entirety." 
And furthermore, " Every culture is bound up with its human 
represent atives." 2 

From this point of view we approach Anthropology as the 
bio-cultural history of Man, and it comprehends also an aetiology 
of the change or movement within a nation. Or it may be 
described as the history of populations regionly considered 
interrelated to the history of races, or the migrations and 
changes of stocks which again is related to the history of culture 
and its evolution. Methodologically we must distinguish this 
treatment of phenomena, its observation, classification, and 
aetiology, from its applications. In turning to account the study 
of anthropological phenomena, so defined, we approach its 
Eugenical bearings. This will be a wider conception of Eugenics 
than the traditional one by as much as the scope and direction 
of Anthropological aims will also have been widened. 

In so far as Eugenics transcends as an applied science, perhaps 
inevitably, the rigid limitations of an exact prognosis of the 
human races' changing forms, features, and morbidities, by an 
insistent demand for the satisfaction of human aspirations, 
ideals, and biased hopes, so far Eugenics must remain, strictly 
speaking, unscientific. To that extent, too, Eugenics must 
retain something, as Galton himself maintained, essentially 
akin to the enthusiasm of a religious hope or faith. To that 
extent also it will admit of both the strength and weakness of 
religious conviction : the strength that leads ardent striving 

1 The study of the laws of racial adaptability is the main thesis of my book, 
The Clash of Culture and the Contact of Races, where the conception of variational 
type adaptation and its implications is first developed. 

8 Georg Thilenius, " On some biological view-points in Ethnology " (The 
Huxley Memorial Lecture for 1931), Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 
vol. Ixi, July-December, 1931. 


after an ideal towards eventual realization in fact and 
achievement, and the weakness that tempts its devotees to 
mistake the wish world of imagination for reality. In such 
terms Nietzsche's Zarathustra voiced his dynamic, but essentially 
ethical and non-scientific, challenge : " Not only onward in time, 
but upward shouldst thou propagate thyself ! For that purpose 
may the garden of marriage help thee." 


Nietzsche, profound as was his sociological insight, scorned 
a methodological approach ; but his time was not ripe for a 
methodology of the social-biological sciences. At that time 
Eugenics was born as an applied science of the future. The 
term as Galton coined it, with the value implication of the first 
syllable, was no more than an anticipation of a riper body of 
knowledge and method, to be achieved after much labour and 
study. The time should now, however, be ripe for a new scientific 
synthesis, with a defined and surer method. Out of it there 
emerges the conception of race, population, and culture as 
tripartite aspects of Man in time, conditioning, and being 
conditioned by his environment : the conception of race in 
evolution. To distinguish it from these earlier anticipations 
it should be profitable to introduce a newer term : a term which 
briefly indicates the implications of race-population change : 
ETHNOGENICS. The term has no propagandist colouring, for the 
ethnogenist is concerned with an exact prognosis of race, 
population, and culture change, and the aetiology of that change 
in the past. 

The new synthesis will work for a correlation between somatic 
and psychical forms, and on the physiological side for a 
standardization of criteria similar to past groundwork on the 
side of physical measurement. Such detailed work, for instance, 
is already being carried on, notably by Professor Elton Mayo, 
in the Industrial Research Institute of Harvard University 1 ; 
work which correlates psychological and physiological indices 
and which points to striking familial and group differences in 
physiological capacity ; work which contributes to a newer 
exact ethno-sociology or ethnogenics with statistical verifications. 
Unlike the frequent tendency in past eugenic discussion, the 
use of the term " desirable ", unrelated to some measurable 
distinction in regard to any race or racial quality is, from this 
point of view, deprecated ; for ethnogenists will prefer to 
replace it in terms of adaptation. 

1 Cf. " The Human Problems of an Industrial Civilization, by Elton Mayo 



Little support is now given to theories based on the once- 
supposed fixity of racial types. But we have barely begun 
to formulate the laws underlying the decline and the increase 
of populations, and in the variations in adaptability exhibited 
by different race types in contact. Certainly, I think, we can 
discount those facile generalizations implying that the causes 
of the extinction of certain primitive races are easily recognizable 
in some arbitrarily selected checks to population or factors 
of elimination. 

Examination often shows no correlation between the rate of 
decline and the incidence of selected mortality rates. A declining 
ethnic type or group often shows a low mortality rate. The 
approach to the problem is too often wrong, because it is forgotten 
that we are studying variational adaptation, and verification 
depends, as I have already said, upon a proper use of demographic 
data ; and demography is the most neglected branch of 
Anthropology. Races and types die out because of inner causes, 
provoked often by outer changes. Progressive loss of viability 
and extinction of human race types occur, as biologists and 
palaeontologists know in the zoological field, when viability or 
growth forces fail to respond in adjustment to environment. 1 

This maladjustment may result from over-specialization, 
which tends to make adaptation to variations in external 
conditions more difficult and more rigid. But specialization 
and over-specialization, while conditions of racial old age, are 
quite different from degeneration, so that changed conditions 
of environment often enable a more generalized and mixed type 
to replace a purer, more homogeneous, more specialized and 
highly developed type. Race mixture or miscegenation thus 
plays a part in the survival and the selective elimination of types. 

One of the populations I have used 2 to illustrate the operation 
of this process of variable adaptability is the Maori of New 
Zealand, where the full-blood population declined rapidly, after 
impact with European civilization had upset the equilibrium 
of adjustment with a stable environment. The rise of a new 
hybridized population of mixed European-Maori blood effected 
and is still effecting a gradual substitution of the old stock by 
a new, less specialized and more adaptable one. These two 
curves of population show opposite tendencies ; the significance 
of the contrast has still been insufficiently appreciated. 

While this demographic verification appears to relate primarily 
to Constitution, Culture no less is involved in the diagnosis. For 

1 Cf. I. P. Tolmachoff, Extinction and Extermination, Smithsonian Report 
for 1929, pp. 269-284. 

2 Cf. Clash of Culture. 


environmental factors are equally cultural, and the mechanism 
of adaptation, that is, the reaction to changing conditions, is 
a process expressible in psychological terms. Since we are 
dealing with innate variations of type, we touch on the subjects 
of Genetics and Eugenics. 

A part of my verification involves an incursion into the 
specialized study of sex ratio variation. Here it must be 
sufficient to record the results of a very wide investigation, 
which shows a correlation between fluctuations in the balance of 
the sexes and an increasing or decreasing population. This 
variation is more marked in the reproductive age categories than 
the variation at birth, and is therefore brought about largely 
by fluctuations in the differential sex survival rate. A large 
percentage of males amongst the young has also been noted as a 
symptom of a declining stock. Increase in masculinity is 
correlated with a decreasing curve of population, increase in 
femininity with an increasing curve. Since the influence of 
miscegenation is reflected in the rise or fall of population, it also 
shows in contrasted sex ratios of the full-blood and mixed-blood 
stocks of populations like the Maori. To-day, Australian 
aboriginal and Red Indian populations furnish significant 
examples. Other demographic features reflect the sensitiveness 
of the social structure to the force of these laws, such as differential 
variation in the respective nuptial ages of men and women, and 
postponement in the male or female nuptial age. 

These are problems within the scope of Anthropology, of 
Demography, and of Eugenics ; they constitute the material 
for Ethnogenic research. For all quantitative variations in 
population and the factors which produce them effect also 
qualitative changes, most conspicuous when populations are 
least homogeneous. Elimination and survival are selective, 
and evolutionary change works through variable adaptation. 
Inbreeding also makes for the segregation of distinctive types, 
while on the other hand, outbreeding militates against the 
specialization of types. Social customs such as cross-cousin 
marriage and endogamy play a part here. The inbred Fijian 
chieftain families showed conspicuous variations in terms of 
viability, survival, fertility, and other measurable distinctions. 
Before the catastrophe of their impact with European civilization 
the inbred families were superior in these respects ; afterwards 
they ceased to be so. The effects of monandrous, polyandrous, 
and polygynous matings may also be analysed by these criteria. 


But all these problems may equally well be studied at home 
among our own European populations ; qualitative as well as 


quantitative changes are taking place before our eyes. There is 
ample work for an army of specialists, but there is still a dearth 
of workers in the most vital yet neglected fields. Depopulation 
and over-population are phenomena reflecting the same laws 
and processes which equally bring qualitative changes with 
the substitution of types and stocks. But surviving stocks 
are sometimes not of the type and equality capable of carrying 
the burden of the complex civilization created by the original 
stock which gave it its peculiar form. The industrial revolution 
in England has been an environmental revolution carried along 
at an increasing rate of complexity by its own momentum, 
bringing in its train a vast increase of population which it 
threatens to find increasingly incompetent to absorb profitably 
or healthily. While at the same time a differential survival 
rate is producing a change in the composition of our populations. 
The problem of the clash of cultures in Europe still awaits 
scientific investigation. 

Adaptation, the price of survival, is no longer the simpler 
problem it was for our leisurely increasing forbears of the 
fifteenth century, when England had a self-supporting, mainly 
agricultural population of some three millions. Science, the 
aggregated product of a few men's brains, has produced the vast 
machinery which has changed the face of our world and every 
minute of our daily life. Do we clearly know what sort of man 
the machinery has produced, and is likely to produce in the 
future ? And what type of man is best fitted to survive in such 
an environment ? And which type is doomed to disappear ? 
And with his disappearance may not our civilization itself go 
with him ? 

Civilization increasingly requires in its growth and sustenance 
variety in the men by which its machinery functions, and if the 
controlling factors of our changing environment operate 
selectively but unevenly, there seems to be evidence that they 
may be developing in different proportions incompatible types of 
men, increasingly alien to each other and incapable of the 
co-operative productiveness that alone ensures the cohesion, 
strength, and health of a nation. 

This problem is beginning to force itself upon the attention 
of some American investigators ; for symptoms of social dis- 
integration are showing in the fabric of society and in its 
industrial life. From the racial melting-pot emerge groups 
intractably drawn into the economic life of the country from 
which they tend to withhold any collective whole-hearted 
allegiance. Their dawning self-consciousness is coloured far 
less by any economic stratifications than by their ethnic heritage 
and by the clash of incompatible culture trends. There are 
negro groups, Indian groups, southern white groups, and regionally 


scattered groups preserving the tongues of their diverse European 

Though perhaps less conspicuous than in the new world of 
America, there are evidences of social disintegration in England, 
in perhaps a different form, symptoms of the same disease that 
destroys societies and brings about the collapse of civilizations 
and cultures. A growing consciousness that the existing political 
and economic structure of society is ceasing to function and is 
bankrupt, while it breeds disillusionment on the one hand, has 
fostered on the other a new determination and hope, expressed 
in the aspirations of the various nationalistic Fascist movements 
in Europe, that may ripen into a new Renaissance. 

It is not only in our colonial Empire that the applications 
of Anthropolgy and Ethnogenics can help us to avoid disasters, 
promote efficiency, and effect economies ; many of the problems 
customarily looked upon as essentially economic or political can 
be elucidated only by the help of careful anthropological 
investigations and method. For instance, the long duration of 
unemployment in England since the War, with the appalling drain 
on the national resources involved in maintaining the unabsorbed 
army of our industrial life, is more than a transient problem 
of temporary dislocation. That it is not merely an economic 
but also a population problem, in which the root causes are to be 
elucidated by anthropological methods and in the application 
of scientific insight, is not generally appreciated. 

When it is considered that social and economic legislation, 
which are determined by political exigencies in ignorance of the 
consequences of the influences at work, directly affect most of 
these factors, the importance of the right scientific training and 
knowledge becomes apparent. By no other means can we hope 
to make the world safe for intelligence. 

In 1923 I was privileged to make the Presidential Address 
to the Anthropology Section of the Australasian Association, 
and I took as my theme " The Disintegration of Tribal Com- 
munities", under the subject-heading "Mental Anthropology 
the Science of Civilization ". I attempted to show that the 
stability and social health of any community, whether a tribe 
or a nation, however high or low in the scale of culture or 
complexity, may be reckoned by the degree of integration or 
disintegration it exhibits, and that every weakening of the 
tribal tie destroys the social purpose of each member of it. The 
disintegrative symptoms may even be shown and measured 
in such ways as the suicide rate, as Durkheim showed in his 
classic study of Suicide, or by the conflict of industrial, civil, 
and religious factions. I then enumerated some of the functions 
by which society achieved its cohesion. 

Since that time, in later work, my studies have led me to 


consider how social disintegration affects and is linked up with 
changes both quantitative and qualitative in a population. It 
was therefore with interest and gratification that I read a 
Presidential Address by Professor Radcliffe-Brown l before 
the Anthropology Section of the Australasian Association 
in 1930, and found that he also took as his theme in the 
domain of Applied Anthropology the " Disintegration of 
Tribal Communities ". My confidence in my own early essay, 
seven years before, was enhanced by the endorsement it 
appeared to receive from Professor Radcliffe-Brown's similiar 
treatment and conclusions. I could find, in fact, only 
one point in a single sentence from which to differ. But as 
that point concerns the theme of my present paper I venture 
to mention it. Our difference is, I conceive, more verbal 
than real. 

He said : " Attempts are being made to institute generally 
under the name of Eugenics an Applied Science of Human 
Biology. These attempts are, to my mind, premature." He 
admitted the desirability of taking those steps as soon as possible, 
but added : " Our theoretical knowledge of the phenomena 
of heredity and variation is totally inadequate at the present 
time -to take up the very difficult task. . . . " 

Premature ! Do we not already know far more than 
sufficient, or suitable, to teach the teachers of the coming 
generation the essential, though elementary, facts about them- 
selves, which the present generation ignores or of which it is 
ignorant ? 

I conceive that I have in anticipation answered this previous 
objection. Professor Radcliffe-Brown has already gone with 
me so far in allotting to the scope of Applied Anthroplogy the 
task of formulating a doctrine applicable to the control and 
direction of social development and the art of Government. 
But I have already tried to show that it is impossible to divorce 
an Applied Social Anthropology from an Applied Human Biology. 
Human Biology thus has a concern in all the influences, cultural, 
physical, and environmental, that affect the extinction or the 
survival of ethnic variations or types. Quantitative changes 
bring about qualitative changes. In so far as these influences 
are amenable to social control or direction, they come within 
the domain of an Applied Science. Ethnogenics is therefore 
the study of those forces, amenable to social control, which may 
influence the fertility and survival rate of variations of type 
in a population : it is a necessary development of that " functional 
anthropology ", which has two distinguished exponents in 
Dr. Malinowski and Professor Radcliffe-Brown. 

1 President of Section H (Anthropology), British Association Centenary- 
Meeting, 1931. 


We are often reminded that the backward aboriginal races 
of the world are fast disappearing, as an urge to speed our 
investigations of their cultures before our material is lost for 
ever ; but ethnic types may disappear amongst thriving and 
dense populations, even here in our midst. Are we less urgently 
concerned in preserving those types and those races which enrich 
our civilization than in writing with academic precision the 
obituary notices of those most remote from us ; or are eschatology 
and the measurement of skulls the only really important branches 
of Anthropology ? l 

1 The scope of Ethnogenics or Human Ecology is further developed by the 
writer in " Population", The Journal of the International Union for the Scientific 
Investigation of Population Problems, vol. i, June, 1933. 


I am about to present a translation, made fiom a Hausa MS. 
in my possession, of one of the odes of the famous pre-Islamic 
Arabian poet, Imruil Kais' or Kaisi, who lived A.D. 492-542. 
Before doing so, however, I shall endeavour to narrate briefly 
how this translation came into my possession and other possible 
points of interest in connection with my subject. 

The poems or odes of this Arabian writer are not, of course, 
wholly unknown to European scholars. 

Firstly, we have the translation of the Baron McGuckin de Slane, 
who, in the eighteenth century, rendered thirty-three out of the 
thirty-four odes, not into French, but into rather unclassical 
medieval Latin. De Slane's work, however, does not contain the 
particular ode which is given here. For a previous rendering of this 
into English, we have to turn to the following writers, whose names 
I shall merely enumerate : Sir William Jones, Captain Johnson, 
Arnold, Lyall and finally Lady Anne Blunt. The works of the 
last three are very free poetic translations, and do not serve as 
a very useful basis of comparison with the original. 

I do not propose here to enter into any discussion concerning 
these translations, nor to make any comparison between them 
and the rendering which I present. Nor will I touch upon the 
life of the author of the original MS. This has been fully dealt 
with in de Slane's preface and also in some of the other works 
to which I have alluded. All of these biographies, I found, could 
be traced to the same source, i.e. the Arabic work, Kitab 
al Aghani. 

I am, in fact, going to confine my remarks almost entirely 
to the Hausa version and to its author, Liman Alhaji Umaru, 
son of Mallam Abubakar Umaru. 

The Gold Coast, or rather its mandated area, is fortunate 
in being the home of the most eminent, perhaps, of those 
Hausa Mallams or teachers, who have a wide local reputation. 

Liman Umaru is a scribe famous for his learning throughout 
West Africa, wherever the Hausa tongue is spoken. As the 
name will imply to those who understand Hausa or Arabic, 
he had made the pilgrimage to Mecca, and he had also spent 
many years of his life wandering over Arabia. He was, of 
course, like all Hausa Mallams with any pretensions to learning 
bilingual. He could speak and write Arabic as fluently as his 
own language. 


256 R. S. RATTRAY 

Liman Umaru had in his possession a library, part of which 
he had inherited from his father, consisting of MSS. chiefly 
of Arabic. 

Among his books was a MS. copy, profusely annotated on 
the margins, of the poetic works of Imruil Kaisi, which had been 
copied out by a Hausa man, Malam Salihu, of Katsena, more than 
150 years ago. Liman Umaru had made a very special study, 
extending over many years, of the works of this Arabian poet, 
had collected and critically examined a considerable quantity 
of literature dealing with his subject, and had finally translated 
the thirty-four odes written by Imruil Kaisi into Hausa. 

To myself, as a very humble disciple of Liman Umaru, this 
translation was of considerable interest. An examination of 
it satisfied me that the Hausa translation far surpassed in style 
and ability any writings which I had previously seen in that 

I do not think that I need fear contradiction when I state 
that Hausa literature is almost non-existent. There are, of 
course, MSS. dealing with historical subjects connected with 
the race, and a certain number of tales and songs. These 
documents are, however, always somewhat disappointing, 
I think. They generally lack any pretensions to literary style. 
THey can seldom, or perhaps never, be taken as specimens of 
the Hausa language as spoken by the more eloquent individual 
members of the Hausa people. 

The fact, of course, is that the average Hausa scribe almost 
wholly neglects his own language from a literary point of 
view and not only writes Hausa in Arabic characters but 
prefers to use Arabic itself as a means of written communication. 

Liman Umaru's translation of the Arabic MS. of Imruil Kaisi 
is, therefore, of very special interest, for it shows us, I think, 
that Hausa, when handled by one of that race determined to 
show its capacity for literary force of expression and beauty, 
becomes a medium which possesses considerable powers of 
poetic expression. 

In working through Liman Umaru's translation, my studies 
were in one important respect to which I had better confess 
at once conducted under some disadvantage. I had not any 
knowledge of Arabic, while Liman Umaru was equally ignorant 
of English. Hence these excursions into the fields of medieval 
Latin and other works of English writers to which I have just 
now briefly alluded, but which do not otherwise here concern us. 

In the course of these researches I discovered that Odes 2-34 
had never been translated into any modem language, and that 
Ode i, in the poetic version of Lady Anne Blunt, Lyall, and 
Arnold, had not, in my opinion, done full justice to the original. 

Liman Umaru had exercised greater care than any of these 


translators in striving to find the exact equivalent in Hausa 
for the Arabic words and phrases of the original, and I hazard 
the opinion that our Arabicized Hausa is at least as likely to 
have given us the true spirit of the original and to have set 
before us as vivid and accurate pictures as European scholars 
have been able to do working through the medium of the Latin 

There is, I think, no gainsaying the fact that Arabic culture 
has exercised great influence on the Hausas, and consequently 
it is at least probable that a Hausa scholar would be more 
en rapport with the spirit of the time when Imruil Kaisi wrote 
than the ordinary European translator. 

Semitic influences in West Africa probably date back to 
the tenth century A.D., when the conversion to Islam of the 
great medieval kingdoms of Bornu is supposed to have 
taken place. 

Researches into the Hausa tongue show it to be a Sudanese 
language fundamentally though distantly connected with the 
language spoken between Bornu and Senigambia, upon which 
has been grafted some few characteristics of the Hamitic 
languages, as seen, for example, in the sex-distinction in the 
pronouns, in some of the syntax, and in a few word-roots. 

In Hausa folk-lore, too, though its main characteristics are 
negro, a similar influence both Semitic and Hamitic is to be 
seen. I mention these facts to show that this Arabic master- 
piece which I am about to present through the medium of Hausa 
is being subjected to a treatment less foreign to its genius than 
we might suppose. I may state that Liman Umaru in his 
translation has not made any attempt to imitate the peculiarities 
of the Arabic metres or to conform to the complicated rules of 
Arabic prosody. His omission to do so was not, however, due 
to ignorance of the rules governing this particular branch 
of Art. 

Among the MSS. which formed his library, to which I have 
already alluded, was an old MS. copy of a work in Arabic prosody 
called Uryunul Gamirati written A.H. 200 by one Shaihu Hazaraji. 
From this work Liman Umaru had worked out fully the forms 
and names of the different metres for each of the thirty-four odes in 
the original Arabic MS. Of the sixteen varieties of metres known 
in Arabic poetry, he had shown that eighteen of these odes were in 
that metre called Tsaili, seven in Wafiru, and the remaining nine 
distributed between Kamilu, Ramal, Madidi, Mutakaribu, 
Munsaribu, and Rajas. I only mention these facts because I think 
they postulate a further guarantee that Liman Umaru, who knew 
his subject sufficiently well to follow the scansion of the original 
poems, has established their true meaning and given us a scholarly 

258 R. S. RATTRAY 

I shall now, before passing on to the piece de resistance of 
my contribution to this volume, i.e. the rendering of one ode 
out of the thirty- four in my possession, endeavour to draw attention 
to some of the outstanding points of interest, anthropological 
and historical, which this and other odes of Imruil Kaisi present 
to us. 

In all these pieces, which vary somewhat in merit, a nomad 
people is set before us, whose chief interests are bound up in 
the use and well-being of their flocks and herds. I shall have 
to content myself, with the space at my disposal, with a few 
quotations only. 

We constantly read in these odes of camels with their gorgeous 
litters conveying women and children with their belongings to 
new grazing-grounds and supplying them with milk and food. 

" The great she-camels with huge humps come homeward 
in the evening, they are betaking themselves behind the trees 
from the voices of the milkers," and again : "I have seen a man 
owner of many camels/' 

We read of a people who also possessed sheep and goats, 
" and as they give their owners cheese and fat in plenty and 
fill of food and fill of drinks that is sufficient/ 1 

'Gazelles and ostriches were tamed, for we read in Ode 2 : 
" Salma was thinking that the time would never end when she 
would be tending the kids of tame gazelles or ostrich eggs at 
Misai where countless caravans alight/ 1 

The horse, the Bedouin's friend par excellence, is so constantly 
alluded to and praised that it is difficult to pick out quotations 
when so many are at hand. I will give only two, chosen at 
random : " Of whom (i.e. my horse) you would say I was watching 
over a bird with broken wings/' and again : " My tall, my 
slender- featured one of many beauties/' 

We gather from these odes that manufactures were in the 
hands either of the people of Yemen or of the Jews or of the 
Eastern nations generally, for when a weapon or a fabric, or such- 
like is mentioned, that word is qualified by an adjective signifying 
the place of its foreign origin. A few examples will suffice : 
" Masharafian blade," " Camels' hair blankets from Hal/ 1 
" Robes from Instakia," " Rudaimizan spear " ; new saddles 
burdened from Herat ; wines from Anata and Shibani ; " sandal 
wood oil from Hind." 

The sports and pastimes of the people of these days are well 
illustrated. They were story-telling, gambling, horse-racing, 
hunting buffalo, antelope, and wild asses, either on horseback 
or on foot, with spears or bows and arrows, or with trained 
hunting dogs. " And here it was the son of Muri's dogs, or the 
dogs of the son of Simbiri came upon him (the buffalo) in the 
early dawn urged on by voice and hand." 


From the names of the animals constantly mentioned, we 
learn that those in which these people were chiefly interested 
were the buffalo, antelope, wild asses, the ostrich, hyena, hares, 
wild hunting dogs, foxes, vultures, hawks, and eagles. Little 
descriptive touches here and there show that the habits of these 
creatures were closely studied, and their peculiarities noted 
" The quick walk of the wild hunting dog " ; " the swaggering 
(swaying) gait of the fox " ; " the hawk with his blinking eye." 

When we seek for passages in these odes which would throw 
light on the religious beliefs of this pre-Islamic people we are 
disappointed at finding very few, although a kind of monotheistic 
idea seems to run like an undercurrent through the poems with 
Allah as the one High God. Not infrequently we are reminded 
of the philosophy of a later Eastern poet, Omar Khayam : " Take 
delight out of the world, for know that you are mortal, delight 
from wine and fair women," writes Imruil Kaisi. But again 
agnosticism rather than atheism seems to underlie such a passage 
as this : " I see us hurrying on against our wish to the unknown." 

Lesser gods and fetishes were not unknown, however, and 
are mentioned by name. Some of these were later adapted or 
have survived under Islam, e.g. " the circling maidens in their 
white-edged robes who serve Duwari." 

There are traces, too, to be found of magic, charms, and 
superstitions, which indeed we would have expected, but instead 
of such beliefs being accepted and accredited, it is a somewhat 
curious fact that when mentioned they are generally treated as 
objects of derision or dislike : " O Hindu, do not marry an 
owl, who has the red hair of birth upon him, which he carries 
rolled up on his wrist ! ", " who seeks a hare that he may place its 
pastern bone on the palm of his hand for fear of death." 

Some general idea of the position of women may be gleaned 
from these odes. The pictures are those of wild love-making, 
passionate but short-lived, and of worship of the sex. The 
physical beauty of woman was adored and her character idealized. 
It will be seen therefore that they were not despised, or enslaved, 
or overworked. The attitude towards the sex seems a forecast 
of what was found later in the days of chivalry and knight- 

It is quite evident that when these poems were composed, 
the people had a love of nature and could appreciate the beauty 
of the heavens and of flowers, which seems in somewhat strange 
contrast with the attitude of mind of the uncivilized African of 
the present day. 

I recollect that on one occasion when I showed a party of 
Africans a garden of zinnias, balsams, and roses, their only 
comment was : " When will they be ready for eating ? " nor 
have I ever met an unsophisticated native of any part of Africa 

260 R. S. RATTRAY 

who seemed capable of appreciating the beauty in a tropical 

These odes again give us an insight into the standard of 



Facsimile page of the original Hausa MS. 

ethics of these people. We see in them the good qualities that 
are praised and the vices that are condoned, or perhaps even 
gloried in. Tribal honour ran high and vengeance for the killing 
of a tribesman is a sacred duty for his fellows : "I swear by 


Allah the blood of my ancient sire does not pass unavenged/' 
the poet sings. 

Drunkenness is tolerated or becomes even a matter for 
boasting : " We were drinking until we thought the trees near 
us were young goats, until again we thought a black horse, 
a chestnut/' 

There are vague and somewhat shadowy references to 
contemporary history and to the Old Testament : " the lamp 
of the Nazarene who has cut himself off from love of women " ; 
" the writings of the Psalms of David upon the date-tree board 
of the Yemanite " ; " the land under Caesar's sway " ; "a king 
of Persia who stands with loins girt/' 

Coming within that branch of anthropology which is known 
as technology, I may mention a toy referred to in the ode which 
I am about to translate. This, the Hausa translator has called 
by the name meaning the hyena's " potsherd " which, I think, 
is the buzzer. 

These then are some of the anthropological and other aspects 
of this work, a sample of which I now present to the reader, 
The translation given follows the Hausa version closely. With 
it are given a facsimile page of the original and a transliteration. 

Kundin wdkokin Imruil Kaisi, dan Hujuru 

Ku tsaya mu yi kukd don tuna masoyi da masabkl, -ga mafddal 
rairaiyi, tsakdnin Dufuli da Haumala, da Tuliha da Mikirata, 
aldmanta bat tsufa ba domin abinda ya sdk'eta, shi ne iskan kudu 
da arewa. Ka na ganin kdshin farfarun bareyl afarfarjiyu nata 
da fakaikanta, ka che shi kwdyaiyakin chatta ne. Kd che dai, nl, 
asdfiyar da su ka daukd kdyd, nan ga faralkayal dengi, maifdfar 
kwatowane. Abokaind sun tsaitsida, abun hawansu a wurinta. 
Su na chewd, " Kada ka mutu domin bakin chiki, jimre dai. 1 ' Sam 
dai y warkewatd haw aye che, 

A BOOK OF THE SONGS OF Imrnil Kaisi, SON OF Hujuru 

(1) Because of the memory of one (we hold) dear, and the place 
of (her) abode (lit. the place she alighted), let us halt and lament. 

(Behold she dwelt) 'twixt Dufuli and Haumala, and Tuliha, and 
Mikirata, amidst the drifting sands. 

Ageless are the ruins (lit. their land-marks have not grown old), 
because of that which ever marks (lit. weaves) them out (afresh), 
even the North wind and the South (on the sands, like the shuttle 
of the weaver). 

(2) You see the droppings of the white gazelles in their court-yards 
and on their outskirts, as if they were the seedlings of the pepper tree. 

(3) And as for me, standing beside the pale thorn shrub with my 
kinsfolk on the morning their caravan departed, I am as he who cuts 
the bitter gourds in twain. 

262 R. S. RATTRAY 

(4) My friends drew up their mounts beside it (the pale thorn) 
and they are saying, " Be not overcome (lit. do not die) because 
of sorrow, only be patient." 

(5) But know that tears heal (a heart's grieving). 

And when that I have caused them to flow (say), " Is there (never) 
a spot where I may rest amid the ruins, however brief my hours ? " 

(6) Tis like the happenings (of long ago) from (her they called) 
Mother of " The Little Reaper " (lit. hoer), who was before her, and 
(you), her companion, " Mother of the Cloud " (who dwelt) in Maasali. 

The tears (that fall) from my eyes are shed for desire, upon my 
breast (they fall) till they drench the girdle of my sword. 

(7) Ah ! many days were (made) sweet to you because of women, 
but none like that day at Daruta by the pool of Juljuli. 

(8) Call to mind the day I stabbed my camel for the maidens, 
and you wondered to see its saddle borne aloft, while they, they 
passed the live-long day, tossing the meat from one to the other', 
and the fat was like the twisted tassels of a silken robe. 

(9) Call to mind the day I entered a palanquin, Unaizaki's 
palanquin, when she cried, " May Allah bring woe upon you, verily 
you will be the cause of my having to go on foot (if you do so)/' And 
she is saying, " You make my camel weary, get you down Imruil 

(10) And all this time the house swayed with us both. (And) 
saicl I to her, " Let us on, leave its reins free, and do not push me 
far from your ripe fruit, that is so smooth for me." 

(11) " I have come to many such as you by night (and some 
were even) great with child. (Others) again with infants in their 
arms I caused to forget the little one, decked with charms, that was 
all too soon to have a little companion (shame on the mother of two 
babes unweaned)." 

(12) And when the infant (she had set) behind her cried, she 
would turn towards it just one half of her body, the other half was 
ours and was not turned away. 

(13) Call to mind a day behind the sand dunes, when one unwillingly 
(came) with me, vowing with irrevocable oath (she would never yield 
herself to me) (Till I grew weary, saying), " O Fatsima ! gently now, 
put aside half this your coyness, or if it be you wish indeed to leave 
me, let it be a kindly parting." 

(14) "And know, that if my nature has angered you, then pluck 
my heart from out your heart that it may be free, for was not love 
of you my destroyer ; it is that which caused you to despise me ? 
(But know) because of you, whenever you would call on it (lit. instruct) 
(again) then will it follow." 

(15) " Your two eyes did not shed tears except to pierce me with 
your two arrows in a heart already slain." 

(16) Many eggs (lie) in the litters that are not sought for in their 
tents (by others), but as for me, I find it sweet to toy with them, and 
hurry not away. I pass and repass many guards and hosts of dangers 
all lusting to destroy me, and had the killers seen me, then had they 
slain me. 

(17) When the " hen and her chicks " (the Pleiades) appeared in 
the sky above, like a necklet, strung with beads of varying size, then 


I have come, and of a truth already she hath unrobed for sleep and 
(stands) in the screened-off chamber of her tent, clad only in little shift. 

(18) And then she spoke : 

" By Allah, you have little wisdom, and as for me I cannot 
think that the blindness of (your) heart will ever be removed 
from you." 

(19) And out I passed with her (into the night). She trails the 
fringes of her cloak behind (to cover up) our footprints on the sands. 

(20) And when we had passed behind the dwellings of her people, 
(then) among the sand dunes, firm (and) mounting one on top of the 
other, was our quest. 

(21) And as she inclined towards me, her scent was wafted (o'er 
me) like the winds from out the East, that come perfumed with the 
camphor tree. 

(22) And when I said, " Bring, give to me/' She would bend 
towards me her soft waist ; (her limbs), swelling where bracelets and 
anklets encircled her, (but) with fair little body and belly which never 
was big. Her breast smooth as the face of a mirror, (and her skin) 
like the egg of a young hen ostrich shaded white and brown. Her 
repasts she made of purest water, undisturbed. 

(23) (As she turns) she displays an oval cheek, (and) darts terror 
from her eyes like a cow buffalo of Waujurata with her young. 

(24) Her neck (was poised) like the gazelles, for ever beautiful, 
and when she raised it, lacked not ornaments. 

(25) (As) branches, her jet black locks, thick, like clusters of dates 
with unripe fruit, covered her back. On the crown of her head her 
(locks) were braided, twisted, (and) the ornament (that held fast 
her hair) was lost among the tresses. 

(26) Her waist was smooth as silk plucked from the cocoon, and 
her ankles were like the supple withies (that are fastened to the gourd 
cups) that are caused to drink the water. 

(27) She stretches forth palms that are soft, without roughness, 
(soft) as the maggots of the midden heap, or the tooth stick of the 
A shall tree. 

(28) She gives light to the darkness of the early night, like even 
to the lamp of the Nazarene, who has cut himself apart from love 
of women. 

(29) The scent of powdered musk lingers o'er her couch until 
morning is far advanced, her couch from which she does not rise 
until the sun is high. 

(30) She talks not idly. As she stretches forth her arms in relaxation, 
(clad) in some garb mid-way between a woman's cloak and a young girl's 
short garment, even the cautious man looks upon such an one with 
desire. The blind passions of men's hearts are soon removed from play 
(with common loves), from love of her the folly (of my heart) cannot 
be plucked out. 

(31) Often one who would have spoken with me concerning you, 
strong bitter words of admonition, I turned (him) aside from speaking 
the truth, but the slander was not little. 

(32) Often Night, like the froth (hiding the surface) of a river, let 
down its curtain upon me, and every kind of doubt to weigh me 
(on the scales). 

264 R- S. RATTRAY 

(33) I said to him, as he thrust out his breast, as he buttocked 
with (his) buttocks, as he leapt forward with (his) chest, " Hail to 
thee, O thou long Night, is it not that thou art coming to an end 
because of Dawn ? Is not Dawn more powerful yet than thou ? 

(34) O Night how wonderful thou art ! One would say that 
his stars had been bound with every twisted rope to the body of 
the mountain of Yazbula. 

One would think that the " hen and her chicks " (the Pleiades) 
had been hung across his horse-pegs on a hempen rope, (and fastened 
to) a solid rock. 

(35) Of a truth, I rose up very early in the morning even the 
birds were in their nests with my great short-clipped steed, (so fleet) 
that you would think that the full-grown beasts of the jungle had 
been tethered (lit. so fleet as (to seem) to tether, etc.). 

(36) As a smooth rock which the torrent has brought down from 
the hills he would advance, flee away, face you, present his back ; 
(as it were) at one and the same time. 

(37) A bay he was. The saddle-cloth would slip from off his back 
as the descending waters glide over a smooth rock. 

(38) Gallop (lit. swim) he would gallop when all were weary, 
(and) would spurn up the dust from the hard places, boiling even 
when weary, with a roar in his belly like the rumbling in an iron pot. 

(39) He would throw the light youth from off his back and shake 
the c^oak from off the heavy fool. 

(40) His turning is like the hyena's piece of broken gourd, pierced 
and spinning on the twisted thread, which boys revolve between 
their palms. 

(41) To him have been given the flanks of the gazelle, the slender 
legs of the ostrich, the quick walk of the wild hunting dog, and the 
swaggering gait of the fox. 

(42) One would say that his shoulders were the stone mortar (in 
which the incense) of a bride (is mixed), or the juice of the bitter 

(43) Saddle and bridle rested (ever) upon him, nay, he slept even 
with his two eyes (open) and stood fastened ever ready (lit. stood, 
not loose). 

(44) Herds of buffalo would come nigh us, all unknowing, and 
you would say that their cows were the (circling) maidens in their 
white-edged robes (who serve) Duwari. 

(45) (And on a sudden) they turn back, strung out, even as a 
string of beads of different sizes, on the neck of one, with many 
kinsfolk both on father's and on mother's side. 

(46) He, (my steed) caused us to overtake the foremost, and 
behind him lagged the weaker ones, which did not disperse. 

(47) He galloped and galloped among the bulls, and cows, and over- 
took them. 

He sweated not, nay he did not even have to be groomed. 

(48) Then the cooks spend the whole day, roasting or partly 
boiling the great lumps, or drying them in the- sun. 

(49) We return again in the evening, and the great horse too turns 
homeward and prances of his own accord, and those whose eyes 
(alight upon him) look him up and down (in wonder). 


(50) You would say that the blood of the foremost (buffalo) upon 
his chest is the powdered henna on a combed-out silver (beard). 

(51) (And for) you when you would pass behind him, he is wont 
to fill the space between (his flanks) with flowing hair that reaches 
to the ground, and hangs so gracefully (lit. which does not bend 
outwards) . 

(52) Oh Hari \ do you see the lightning which I show you with 
its shimmering like the waving of two hands among the banks 
of clouds ? it is shedding its light even like the lamp of the Nazarene 
recluse who has poured oil upon the twisted strands of wick. 

(53) I dwelt amid such (storms) while my friends were (safely 
camped) between Hamiri and between the hills. You see how far 
my gaze was set. 

(54) It was early morn, and raining every hour, and (the storm) 
was casting the great trees prone (lit. on their chins). 

(55) Even to Taitnaa it had a thought to go, and left not even the 
stumps of its date trees standing, nor any wall, save only those built 
up with stones. 

(56) You would say, the peak of Mujaimiri in the morning, because 
piled with flotsam, was the whorl that tops the spindle. 

(57) Like a great man lying huddled up in his blanket is the 
mountain of Abana, among its many waters. 

(58) (The flood) throws its chest towards the Gabitsi (jungles), 
(and settles itself down upon the land) like a rich Yemanite whose 
bags are full of wealth. 

(59) You would say that the lions, floating upon its farthest flood 
in the early dawn, were the root-bulbs of the frog's wild onions, dug 
out (of the earth). 

(60) On the right, its floods pour forth on the summit of Kutsumi 
and on the left on Satari, and Yazbula, and along with Night it throws 
its chest to Busyani, carrying down the wild goats from every (peak) 
whereon they stood. 


The Babemba of North-Eastern Rhodesia have always been 
classed as one of the typically matrilineal, matrilocal, tribes 
of Central Africa part of that solid mass of Luba-Lunda- 
Bemba peoples which stretches from the Central Congo on the 
west to Lakes Tanganyika and Nyasa on the east. 
These warrior groups of Bantu seem to have spread in 
successive waves from the borders of Lubaland, occupying the 
open expanses of forest land to the east. The Babemba them- 
selves apparently crossed the Lualaba River over 200 years ago, 
gradually expanding over the whole of what is now known as 
the Tanganyika plateau of North Rhodesia the territory between 
the four great lakes, Mweru, Bangweulu, Tanganyika, and 
Nyasa. All these agricultural, hunting peoples, such as 
the Luba, Lunda, Bemba, Bisa, Lala, Chewe, etc., 2 show great 
similarities of speech and culture, and of these a strongly 
matrilineal kinship system, associated in some cases with 
matrilocal marriage, has been reckoned as one of the most 
characteristic features. 

It is for this reason that a detailed study of the matrilineal 
elements of Bemba culture is one of the anthropologist's first 
tasks. I say detailed, because we are coming more and more 
to realize that the summary classification of primitive peoples 
as patrilineal or matrilineal is not only inadequate, but actually 
misleading without careful descriptive notes of the use of the 
terms in each case. 3 Dealing with the problem of authority 
alone, Radcliffe-Brown has shown us how widely the power 
of the father varies in relation to that of the maternal uncle, 
the male head of the family, from tribe to tribe, even in those 

1 The material for this article was collected during a year's work among 
the Babemba, 1930-1, for which I am indebted to the generosity of the Cape 
Town University, the Rhodes Trustees, and the Percy Sladen Trust. I should 
like to add it to this collection in honour of Professor Seligman, because it was 
at one of his seminars at the London School of Economics that it first saw 
light, receiving as all other work I have brought to him, his most ungrudging 
criticism and help. As an account of Bemba kinship it is necessarily provisional 
and incomplete, since I am, at the moment of writing, again at work in the 
field, correcting and checking previous observations. 

2 Classified by the late Mr. Emil Torday as the forest-dwelling Bantu, in 
Descriptive Sociology, African Races, London, 1930, and by Dr. I. Schapera, 
in " A Working Classification of the Bantu People of Africa ", Man, May, 1929, 
as the Central Bantu. 

8 See, e.g., Notes and Queries on Anthropology, fifth edition, London, 1929. 



parts of South Africa which are reputedly most patriarchal 
in type. 

Moreover, the recent emphasis on the psychological aspects 
of primitive kinship has revolutionized our whole conception 
of such institutions as mother-right and father-right. Malinowski, 
in particular, has shown us very clearly that native ideas and 
beliefs as to sex and kinship, and the traditional emotional 
attitudes towards the different sides of the family, paternal and 
maternal, are just as integral a part of the social system as the 
legal rules of descent and succession on which the classification 
of primitive peoples used to be made. He maintains that this 
very legal over-emphasis of the rights of one side of the family 
as against the other is often responsible for an emotional tension 
between the two kinship groups, and resultant compensatory 
mechanisms for the satisfaction of the losing side. The terms 
matrilineal and patrilineal must in fact be defined, not only 
in terms of the legal rules of kinship, but also by an analysis 
of the emotional ties which unite the members of the two groups. 
It is just this balance between the conflicting interests of the 
paternal and maternal kinsmen, sometimes more, and sometimes 
less satisfactory in its working, which we have to try to estimate 
in any. particular case. What in fact do we mean by the term 
matnlineal as applied to the Bemba tribe ? 

To begin with the facts most familiar, what are those elements 
of Bemba culture which have led to the classification of these 
people among the matrilineal Bantu ? At first sight the list 
is impressive. Descent, clan membership, and the chiefly 
succession follow, with few exceptions, the maternal line. The 
mother's brother, the nalume, seems to play a very important 
part in deciding the destinies of family or home. Marriage, 
at any rate for a certain period, is matrilocal ; and anyone 
observing day to day the independent behaviour of the Bemba 
women, their easy rights of divorce, the evident power of the 
older women in village life, and the unique position of the royal 
princesses, or banamfumu, 1 is inclined to suspect that here at 
last something like real matriarchy actually obtains. 

But it is necessary to keep an open mind on the question, 
until we have made a preliminary analysis of the rules of 
inheritance, succession, and descent and the exercise of authority 
in family life. Now to estimate the relative importance of these 
different aspects of kinship, we require some knowledge of the 
economic and political structure of the tribe, and the functions 
which various groups of kinsmen have to perform in it. Thus 
among the Babemba, a people which have not yet reached a 
very high level of agricultural development, and live moreover 

1 Cf. The Great Plateau of Northern Rhodesia, by C. Gouldsbury and H. 
Sheane, London, 1911, for a first description of these facts. 


in an area poor in natural resources, the inheritance of material 
property is of relatively little significance in determining kinship 
ties. It might be said in fact that the average Mubemba inherits 
little from his maternal uncle besides his hereditary bow, 
and possible rights over the distribution of the crops of the 
dead man. 

Among the Babemba wealth really consists in the power to 
command service, whether this be from subject to chief, son-in-law 
to father-in-law, slave to owner, or youth to age. Such services 
were used formerly in the conquest and subjection of surrounding 
tribes. Even at the present day a chief reckons his assets in 
terms of the number of villages he possesses and the number of 
men who can be relied on to do mulasa, or tribute labour in his 

Moreover, the question of succession applies not only to the 
case of chiefly office and positions of rank. Every Mubemba 
must be succeeded at death by the appropriate heir, who takes 
not only his name, his bow (or, in the case of a woman, the girdle 
or mushingo), but also his status, social obligations, andtmtpashi 
or guardian spirit as well, with the resultant right and duty of 
approaching this spirit in prayer. This form of succession, known 
as kupyanika, is not of course unparalleled among other primitive 
tribes, but in this case the identification between the dead man 
and his heir seems to me to be unusually complete. It invades 
every aspect of daily and ceremonial life. Whether as regards 
legal status, kinship terms and attitudes, or everyday behaviour, 
the heir newly appointed actually is the dead man, and I shall 
treat this custom of kupyanika under the heading of succession 

The rules of descent among the Babemba are equally 
important from a functional point of view. This colonizing 
tribe cannot boast long generations of attachment to one particular 
geographical region. Its people are by temperament travellers, 
and their form of social structure makes for constant change of 
residence from one part of the country to the other. 

Among many primitive societies cultural integrity is 
maintained by a strong sentimental attachment to a certain 
tract of land, but among the Babemba this feeling is replaced, 
I think, by a reverent, sometimes almost passionate interest 
in the question of descent usually traced from the first ancestors 
to leave Lubaland in search of new worlds. This is particularly 
the case, rather naturally, among the members of the royal clan 
and the hereditary officials attached to the Paramount Chieftaincy 
itself. It is, moreover, in my opinion, the basis of tribal cohesion 
in this large and scattered tribe. Let us see then in 
greater detail how far these two institutions succession and 
descent follow a decidedly matrilineal or a patrilineal type. 


As regards descent the Babemba are definitely matrilineal. 1 
Membership of the clan, or mukoa, follows that of the mother. 
Clan membership is of course more or less important in 
determining kinship sentiment according to its function in 
tribal life. Among the Babemba it would seem at first sight 
that this is not a very great one. With the clan there are 
associated no totemic taboos of the type common among other 
Central Bantu peoples. Clan names often refer in fact to 
essential human foods such as millet, or to parts of the human 
body, or to natural phenomena such as rain. Nor does a man 
look to his fellow-clansmen for help in time of trouble, as we are 
told is the case among the Ba-ila further south. 2 To obtain 
hospitality or support it is necessary for a stranger to trace his 
lineage on both sides of the family, as well as giving his clan. 
In all the actual difficulties of life it is to the lupwa, a bilateral 
group of relatives, to which he turns a fact which is in itself 
a hint that the matrilineal emphasis in this tribe is not as strong 
as we should have at first believed. Nor, in the eyes of the native, 
does the clan regulate marriage, since he always maintains 
emphatically that he can marry those of his own clan. He is 
only forbidden, he says, to marry to those he calls nkashi yandi, 
or " my sisters/' which means in fact his parallel cousins on 
both sides. He cannot, therefore, in reality marry a near relative 
of his mother's clan, although he himself regards the prohibition 
as an extension of the brother-sister incest rules rather than as 
a clan taboo. 

Nevertheless as regards formal descent the clan is important. 
Even a young man will remember the legend of his clan origin. 
Clan membership among the Babemba also determines to some 
extent social status, especially in the case of the benangandu, 
or crocodile totem, the royal clan. 

Descent, apart from clan membership, is also reckoned in 
the matrilineal line in the first place. The average Mubemba 
remembers four generations of his relatives on his mother's 
side, and then records a blank till he reaches the original ancestors, 
men and women, of the matrilineal side. On his father's side 
he will remember fewer or more relatives according to the latter's 
rank. In the case of those holding chiefly office the contrast 
is more striking. I have met hereditary councillors of the chief 
who could give me thirteen generations of male relatives on their 
mother's side, and only two on their father's ! The Paramount 

1 Reasons of space compel me to omit most of the evidence for this and 
similar statements in the sequel. I shall have to beg the indulgence of my 
readers on this score, as my aim is not to demonstrate the existence of " matri- 
liny " and " mother-right " among the Bemba, but to examine its functional 
relations with " father-right ". 

z The Ila-Speaking Peoples of Northern Rhodesia, by E. W. Smith and A. M. 
Dale, London, 1920. 


Chiefs are reckoned as twenty-seven or so, and of course, in the 
case of a chief, the paternal ancestors are merely the consorts 
of the royal princesses and as such, from the point of view of 
descent, practically do not exist ! 

We see, therefore, that though the matrilineal clan plays little 
part in everyday life, yet the formal rules of descent, crystallized 
most clearly in the case of the royal family, are typically 

In succession, too, the formal legal emphasis is matrilineal. 
A chief is succeeded by his brothers, then by his sister's sons, 
and then by his sister's daughter's sons. But besides 
those actually succeeding to the chieftaincies, all benangandu, 
that is to say all members of the royal clan, have chiefly rank, 
whether men or women. 

This matrilineal line of succession is associated among the 
Bemba with a glorification of the function of motherhood in 
the royal line. Each namfumu, or royal princess the sister, 
uterine niece or grand-daughter of a chief is the potential 
mother of a ruling head, and is brought up from her earliest 
years to feel that the production of sons and daughters for the 
royal succession is her proper function in tribal life. These 
banamfumu occupy an extraordinarily privileged position. 
They are above all tribal laws, especially in matters matrimonial, 
and are backed in all their actions by their brothers, or uncles, 
the chiefs. Certain of the banamfumu also reign over territory 
in their own right, although always under the aegis of some chief 
who wields for them their political and legal power. The mother 
of the Chitimukulu (Paramount Chief) is the most important of 
these ruling chieftainesses. She has rights of decision in the 
selection of the Paramount Chief himself, and receives presents 
and help from nearly all her sons, the sub-chiefs. Succession to 
such chieftaincies is of course strictly matrilineal, first to the 
dead woman's sisters, and then to her grand-daughters. 

The important position of the namfumu in tribal life is 
reflected in a cult of the dead mothers of the chiefs. Legend 
tells how the first Chitimukulu and his brothers, on 
arriving in Lubemba, sent back messengers to fetch nkashi 
yesu "our sister", stealing her from Lubaland after untold 
adventures on the way. The site of her first village is 
still one of the most sacred spots in the country, and here start 
the big sacrificial rites (Kupepo), which are then successively 
carried out at all spirit centres throughout the land. In the 
chief's relic-house is kept the flour-basket which she is said to 
have brought with her, and at some of the chiefs' villages is a house 
kept sacred to the spirits of the royal women. In certain 
rites performed at these capitals the chief himself salutes to the 
ground in front of this house and prays to " our mothers 


who bore us and suckled us and carried us in skins on their 
backs. 1 ' 

This reverence of the ancestral mother is associated very 
naturally with an idealized picture of the brother-sister relation- 
ship in legend and folk-tale. In daily life the husband and the 
father intervene, make their demands and take their dues, but 
in myth the supplementary figures fade away, and the essential 
structure of the family grandmother, mother, mother's brother, 
and brother and sister remain alone on the stage. It is interesting, 
too, to note that this system of succession has never yet been 
questioned, even in areas where the white influence has been 
particularly strong. This pertinacity of the belief in matrilineal 
succession does not seem to be at all incompatible with wide 
changes in the patria potestas in the course of daily life. 

So much then for the question of descent, succession, and 
inheritance though to the question of descent we shall have to 
return again. What about that more complex aspect of 
kinship the leadership and authority in family life ? In 
a primitive society the power of the father as against the male 
head of the family, the maternal uncle, is manifested usually 
in certain well-defined ways actual authority in the household 
and ch'arge of the education of the children ; the legal possession 
of the children in case of divorce or dissolution of the marriage ; 
the power to arrange the marriage of the children themselves, 
or to share in the marriage payments made on such occasions ; 
and in general the mutual obligations of father to son, or maternal 
nephew to uncle, as regards general support. 

The question of authority in the household must be largely 
determined, of course, by the rules of residence at marriage. 
Among the Babemba marriage is matrilocal. The girls are 
betrothed usually before puberty, and after making his first 
symbolic presentation to his parents-in-law (nsalamo) the bride- 
groom, often himself a mere boy, will move to the bride's village, 
build himself a hut, and start to work for a period of two, three, 
or even up to seven years for his father-in-law. During this 
time he is fed by his mother-in-law, and his bride, as she grows 
older, will come to sweep out his hut and to draw water for him. 
She may also, if she wishes, sleep with him at night, since pre- 
pubertal intercourse is permitted provided the girl is returned 
to her mother as soon as there is any danger of her conceiving 
(a terrible calamity if her chisungu, or initiation ceremony, 
has not been performed). The husband, in the meantime, is 
responsible for various further marriage payments the mpango 
and formerly fulfilled this part of the contract by the provision 
of two or more bark-cloths, or sometimes hoes and arrows, usually 
fetched from the Lunda country to the west. But such payments 
could almost be considered symbolic in the old days. There is 


nothing comparable to the considerable transfer of wealth in 
the form of cattle which we find at marriage among the Southern 
Bantu. The period of service for the bride's father was formerly 
the essential element of the contract. 

But with the payment of the mpango, and the completion of 
the chisungu ceremony, the husband is not allowed to move his 
wife to his own village until one, two, or even more children 
have been born, and until his good and steady behaviour has 
reassured his parents-in-law. The length of this probationary 
period will depend on the relative social importance of the 
husband's and wife's families, and of course in the case of a 
namfumu, the husband could never expect to remove his wife at all. 

It will be seen that these marriage customs have important 
bearings on the question of paternal authority in the household. 
Matrilocal marriage means in general the absence of the younger 
men of the family who are probably away working for their 
fathers-in-law at a village somewhere else. There is a resultant 
concentration of authority in the hands of the elder people of 
the bride's family, her mother and father if they still remain 
married, or her mother and maternal uncle if the former is a 
widow or has been divorced. This situation is the more 
pronounced since the early marriage of the girl makes her 
exceedingly dependent on her female relatives in daily life. 
She spends her day at her mother's house, eats there with her 
other married sisters, and, when her first baby comes, relies 
entirely on her mother for advice, and is, in fact, hardly fitted 
to do much else. It is not surprising, therefore, that during 
the first years of a typical marriage the father is a person of little 
account. The biological family of man, woman, and child exists. 
Husband and wife sleep in their own hut, and perform together 
the ritual acts necessary for the rearing of their child. But 
custom decrees that the child should go to sleep with its grand- 
mother as soon as it is weaned. Sex taboos between husband 
and wife are then at an end, and contact with sexually active 
persons is magically dangerous to the young child. For the 
next five years or more the grandmother is the most important 
person in its life. She looks after him, feeds him, and often 
becomes more to him than the mother herself. Nowadays, 
when parents both go down to the mining centres, it is quite 
common to find children who do not remember their mother at all. 

Again, though husband and wife are economic partners, and 
make a joint garden, yet the agricultural work is usually done 
in groups, the mother helping her daughters and sisters and 
vice versa, and the son working for, and with, his relatives in law. 
Moreover, sex taboos and etiquette, and the rigid sex division 
of labour of a primitive society set a barrier between husband 
and wife at their meals, their play, and their work ; but on one 


side of this is the wife amidst a solid phalanx of her own relatives, 
while on the other is the father, isolated, often a stranger in the 
village and prevented by the stringent in-law taboos from joining 
many of the groups of men who eat in the men's shelters at night. 
The situation is of course altered where inter-village or cross- 
cousin marriage has taken place, but the picture I have tried 
to draw is typical of the old-fashioned marriage and the one that 
is illustrated, moreover, in proverb and song. 

The position of the father is very much altered when he can 
remove his wife to his own village later in life. He will then 
probably choose to go to live with his own most important 
relative on either side, either his grandfather, his nalume, or 
even his father if the latter has a village of his own. Here 
he will stay until he is in a position to build up his own settlement 
the dearest aim of every Mubemba or until he is called upon 
to succeed his nalume, and may go to become the headman of a 
village which is, so to speak, already made. 1 In either case, 
unless family intermarriage has taken place, the wife has to 
leave the support of her own people and live as a stranger in 
her husband's village. If the marriage has been in any way 
unstable, it is not uncommon for divorce to take place at this 
time. " A woman thus left alone, whether by her own wish or by 
necessity, naturally looks to her own brother or to her nalume for 
support, and goes to settle with him. 

If on the other hand the marriage endures, and these cases 
are after all in the majority, the wife will follow her husband 
to his home. If he has young daughters, married or about to 
be married, his position is at once greatly strengthened. As 
a father-in-law, and later a grandfather, his position is triumphant, 
even if as a father it is a poor one. This is what a Mubemba 
means when he says that with the birth of his daughters ninsanga 
chifulo, " I have found a permanent place of abode." A man with 
many daughters is envied, and the children of his daughters are 
of course particularly his own. 2 A man's sister, the nyina senge, 
has also peculiar powers over his daughters. 

1 The average village contains about thirty huts, but a man might start with 
a group of ten or so relatives and hope to attract others until about seventy huts 
had been built. 

2 In the royal family matrilocal residence is of course more continuous, 
and the husband of a namfumu will remain so to speak an outsider all his life. 
As in many other cases, the kinship system of the benangandu is the extreme 
instance of a rule which is greatly varied in the case of the ordinary men and 
women of the tribe. The namfumu chose their lumbwe, or consorts, usually in 
quick succession, according to eugenic principles, and a lumbwe had really no 
other job than to provide strong sons and daughters as heirs, or mothers of heirs. 
These consorts lived in the old days a precarious life, liable to be dismissed on 
the slightest pretext, and to suffer mutilation or death- if a difficult or fatal 
childbirth caused suspicion that they had committed adultery during the 
pregnancy of the namfumu, their wife. Only a lumbwe of great distinction, or 
himself a mwinangandu, could expect his wife to follow him, even temporarily, 
to his own village. 


The question of the possession of the children of any marriage 
is more complex, and here great changes are noticeable at the 
present day. Formerly it was of vital importance, since the elder 
relatives had the right to give the younger as slaves in com- 
pensation for blood guilt or as wives to fulfil a marriage contract 
which had been broken for any reason. This right lay almost 
exclusively in the hands of the maternal side of the family, and 
in particular the nalume. Nowadays we have to consider 
chiefly the question of the legal possession of the children in 
case of divorce. Technically this right belonged to the maternal 
relatives, but recently the position has very much changed. 
Then, and now, a man who had paid a large mpango could thereby 
increase his rights over the children, but at present the demands 
of the wife and the children for clothing and European luxuries 
are growing rapidly, and with them the power of the paternal 
relatives. In fact if divorce has taken place by mutual consent, 
a man can maintain his rights over the children by sending 
occasional gifts or clothes for their support. Divorce cases 
heard at a native court consist largely in the weighing-up of the 
contributions made to the marriage at various times by the 
father and the nalume. 1 

In the case of the division of the mpango, we may note very 
much the same tendency towards an increase in the father's 
power. An old man will tell you that the nalume should get 
all the mpango, but that he should give something to the father 
and to the nyina senge, especially if the father is a person of 
rank and means. Nowadays the father claims the right to 
divide the payment, although he will give something to the 
nalume or maternal grandparents. Even if divorced from the 
mother he can claim half the money given at his daughter's 
marriage. In reality, I think, the mother or maternal grandmother 
is the owner of the mpango and that she hands it to the male 
relative, whether father or nalume, who is the acting guardian 
of the girl. 

It will be seen, therefore, that as regards the possession of the 
children, the balance between paternal and maternal relatives 
is fairly evenly maintained. The child moves from the care 
of his maternal grandparents to that of his father, according to 
circumstances, or his own free will. It must be remembered 
also that the permanent village does not exist among the 
Babemba. Sites are changed every four or five years with 
shifting systems of agriculture, and kinship groups are constantly 
dissolved and reformed. But in spite of wide possibilities of 

1 In actual practice it may be added that the phrase " custody of the 
children," used in the white man's order, is largely a meaningless expression in 
the case of the Babemba because of the freedom allowed young children. What- 
ever the decision of the European court, the children in practice move from 
relative to relative very much as they like. 


individual variation, the legal rule to this day remains the 
same. A Mubemba is emphatically associated with his mother's 
kin. The clan system, inheritance, and succession pass in the 
maternal line, and this identification of a man with his mother's 
relatives is made closer by the kupyanika system of succession to 
the spirit and social status of the dead nalume or maternal 
grandfather. Matrilocal marriage and the customs of child- 
rearing make for the authority of the maternal grandparents, 
while the nalume is the official guardian and educator of the child, 
formerly with power over the life and marriage of his uterine 
nephews and nieces. It is perhaps significant, too, that the 
injured spirit of a maternal relative, particularly the mother or 
the nalume, can be expected to return and afflict the neglectful 
child at death, whereas the father, however much he may have 
given to his children, of his pleasure, during his lifetime is not, 
according to formal dogma, permitted to return in this way. 

But this seemingly matrilineal organization is twisted, and 
sometimes even deformed in actual fact. The father is constantly 
making inroads on the maternal family's prerogatives, and we 
shall see that there is almost a balance of rights maintained 
in the course of daily life. The first factor which alters the 
strong matrilineal emphasis is the native theory of procreation. 
According to Bemba theory it is technically only the woman 
who can pass on the blood to her children, although this statement 
will be immediately qualified by most natives. " If a man 
begets children," an old native of rank will say, " what are they ? 
Things of no value. But if his sister bears children they are of 
his blood and he must look after them." And in this way the 
first chiefs married their children to their sisters' children to 
create bufyashi, or seed. But the Babemba are perfectly aware 
of the physiological function of the father in the conception of 
the child, and this very role is made the basis of important 
paternal rights. In Trobriand society the facts of physical 
paternity are ignored. In South Africa they are known, but the 
sociological fatherhood established by the payment of lobola 
is made of more consequence in tribal life ; but in Bemba culture 
it seems to be the actual fact of physiological fatherhood which 
is recognized as the basis of the father's rights over his child, 
and the attitude of respect with which he is treated. Divorce 
is frequent among these people, as we have shown, but the father 
is never forgotten. It is extraordinary to see grown men and 
women, children of parents long since divorced and parted, 
making long journeys to visit their father and to give him presents. 
Extraordinary, too, to listen to the calm assurance of the father, 
living perhaps some 300 miles away, " They will come back one 
day. How can they forget their father ? " And in both cases 
the explanation is apparently the same. " Would my mother 


have conceived without my father?" said a man impatiently, 
in answer to my continued questions. I have had the same 
answer offered as a reason for giving half the girl's marriage 
payment mpango to a father who had contributed little to 
her maintenance during her youth. So also in the case of the 
royal clan, the lumbwe or consort, who is typically an object of 
pity and derision, may be rewarded and honoured by a chief, 
" Because he was a good man. He begat many children for 
our mothers." 

Further there is in native belief an intimate magical connection 
between a man and his wife and his child. The lives of the 
three are mysteriously entwined by the very fact of the sex act, 
and their common association with the fire of one hut. The 
sex behaviour of one partner affects the life and health of the 
other and the birth and safety of any children of the union 
especially in the case of a man's head wife. It is for this reason 
that a father has a very important part to play in the ritual 
life of the young child. The young father, as we saw, has not 
much power over his first children, but even he, isolated in a 
strange village, is hailed by the omnipotent grandmother as the 
mwine, or owner of the child, called by the child's name, and 
considered absolutely essential to the safety of the baby's life. 

It is surprising to find, too, that in this matrilineal tribe a man is 
called by his father's name and not by that of his nalume. The 
first name given to a child is that of the spirit which has been 
found by divination to be its guardian, but to this name is 
added, as a kind of surname, that which the father has taken 
later in life. Thus even a member of the royal clan, a 
mwinangandu, is known by the name of his father, the despised 
lumbwe cases being on record of a slave lumbwe having so given 
his name to the child. Moreover, the guardian spirits, or 
mipashi, are inherited bilaterally, and a man may go through 
life protected by a spirit of his father's line. 

Moreover, besides native theories of procreation we have to 
consider the actual sentiment attaching father to son. Malinowski 
has shown us very clearly, in another typically matrilineal society, 
the conflict between the legal duty to the maternal nephew, 
and a man's natural desire to benefit his own sons. In Bemba 
culture something of the same phenomenon can be seen. 
Between father and son there is a freer, more casual and 
affectionate relationship than that between uncle and uterine 
nephew. Not only is the nalume the ultimate legal guardian, 
but as the boy grows up he begins to feel the shadows of 
approaching restraints. His preferential marriage is with his 
cross-cousin, the daughter of his mother's brother. The 
nalume is a potential father-in-law, and already treated with 
stiffness and uncomfortable respect. The boy knows also that 


he may have to assume the name of his maternal uncle and also 
to inherit the latter's wife. The possible future identification 
between the two relations sets up a barrier between those who 
are legally next of kin a man and his sister's son. This is 
particularly the case in the chief's family where the question of 
inheritance is of greater importance, A mwipwa (or " sister's 
son ") of a chief must stay at his uncle's court, entirely at his 
service, but may not eat or drink with him, joke, or touch his 
person all this in marked contrast to the behaviour of the 
royal sons. It is significant, too, that a chief, or a man holding 
high office, is helped in his duties by son or grandson rather 
than his uterine nephew. " Why may my mwipwa not see my 
sacred relics ? Because he will succeed me. He is the same 
as me (alelinga ine). It would be a slight to the spirits while 
I am still alive. Besides, why should I show things to him 
who will one day get everything of mine ? I am not going to 
teach him. I shall teach only my sons. My mwipwa can learn 
from other people when I am dead. How do you suppose I learnt 
myself ? " This statement by one of the chief's hereditary 
councillors sums up the typical attitude of the nalume well. 
In this uneasy relationship between nalume and mwipwa the 
father sometimes plays a part as a kind of neutral. At a 
kupyanika, or an accession ceremony, it is the father who has 
to hand the heir the bow of succession ; the father's sister who 
gives the mushingo to the girl. Thus in the case of succession to 
the chieftainship, the father, himself a nobody, has to play an 
important part. There are cases on record, too, where the father's 
relatives were put in charge of a chief's sacred relics when the 
fighting between two rival heirs was acute. Conversely, in the 
case of the chiefs, the desire of the father to secure benefits for 
his sons as against his sister's sons meets with a large 
measure of success. In this matrilineal society the banabamfumu, 
or sons of the chief have definite rank, though not membership 
of the royal clan of course. In youth they live at their father's 
court, care-free, irresponsible, and spoilt in every way. As they 
grow older they are given villages in their father's territory, 
live near him, and get his constant support. There are even 
large tracts of land which are regularly inherited by sons of chiefs. 
The Makasa, for instance, one of the biggest of the sub-chiefs, 
is always the eldest son of the Paramount Chief, and fulfils an 
important r61e in tribal affairs, while the headmen of his territory 
are always sons of former Makasa and their succession is there- 
fore practically patrilineal. 

We see, then, that the strength of the institution of 
chieftainship can override the matrilineal principle and find 
in tribal organization a place for the chief's sons, and 
that, therefore, in this decidedly matrilineal society there 


was, even in former days, a strong admixture of patri- 
lineal right. The legal rules of kinship could be overruled 
by a man of superior rank, and a man of royal clan could 
probably claim successfully both his bepwa and his sons. 
Conversely, a man whose father's rank was superior to his mother's 
would unhesitatingly attach himself to the clan of the former. 
Similarly a man of substance, by dint of the size of the mpango 
given for his wife and the contributions given for her support 
and that of the children, could ipso facto increase his control. 
In the case of the children of a slave wife his rights were naturally 

Contact with white civilization has further tilted the balance 
to the father's side. This has been due in part to the ignorance 
of white administrators and teachers and their prejudice against 
the matrilineal system, and partly to directly economic factors. 
The exodus of men to work in the Rhodesian copper mines has 
greatly diminished marriage by service, and also largely put an 
end to matrilocal marriage itself, The increasing demands of 
wife and children for cloth and objects bought by money has 
placed a further weapon in the father's hand. 

As against this we have to set the greater instability of modern 
marriages, and the enormous number of deserted wives driven 
back on their maternal relatives for support. To this cause 
we have to attribute also an increase in interfamily and cross- 
cousin marriage. A near relative is less likely so to desert a wife. 

When the balance of patrilineal and matrilineal rights is so 
intricate, it is no longer useful to accept the old rough and ready 
classifications as an end in themselves. It is our task rather to 
make comparative studies among a series of kindred peoples 
in order to get some general conception of the way in which 
this balance is maintained. Again, though it appears that in 
Bemba society a change is taking place very rapidly from 
matrilineal to patrilineal, yet this change is in itself dependent 
on so many factors that it is ludicrously inadequate to try to 
account for it by any facile belief in the universality of such 
an evolutionary change. 



Psychology and anthropology, in fact all the various methods 
of studying mankind, seem to be converging towards one essential 
problem. We want to know more about human character, 
about the reasons that induce human beings to act in a certain 
way. Under similar conditions different people or different 
groups of people will act and feel differently to each other, but 
consistently to themselves. People are avaricious or liberal, 
witty or dull, kind or the opposite, brave or full of anxieties, i.e. 
they show certain typical attitudes. Popular belief also 
attributes a certain character to whole nations, regarding, for 
instance, the German as methodical but slow, the Frenchman as 
witty but unreliable, the Englishman as eminently a man of 
common sense, the Spaniard as proud and brave, and so on. 
There are, of course, very great differences in the opinions nations 
form about themselves and in the views held by others regarding 
their neighbours. We shall have to inquire into the question 
as to how far this idea of a collective or group character is 
justified, by which I do not mean to ask whether the French 
or the Germans are really what they are alleged to be, but whether 
and how such a thing as a group character can exist. 

It is, of course, possible to choose all sorts of characteristics 
and use them as a basis for the classification of mankind. 

Kretschmer's famous attempt to correlate constitution with 
certain mental types is built up on psychiatry and popular 
opinion. The author sides with Julius Caesar when he says : 

" Let me have men about me that are fat, 
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o' nights. 
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look, 
He thinks too much : such men are dangerous/' 

But when he accepts Kraepelin's grouping of psychotics as 
either mania-melancholiac or schizophreniac (dementia prcecox), 
and then extends this classification to non-psychotic individuals 
and correlates it with the " asthenic " and the " pyknic " type 
of constitution, it is doubtful whether he has given the anthro- 
pologist a tool that he can use. 1 His " asthenic " type agrees 
mentally more or less with Jung's idea of an introvert, the 

1 Cf. E. Kretschmer, Korperbau und Charakter, 1926. 


" pyknic " or " cyclothymic " with that of an extrovert. It 
seems very doubtful whether thin and tall races are in general 
more likely to adopt an introvert attitude than broadly built, 
fat people. 

Jung's well-known classification has been applied to anthro- 
pology by Professor Seligman. In a very interesting paper 
he arrives at the conclusion that the civilization of India 
and China should be regarded as mainly introvert, while all so- 
called primitive people as well as the representatives of Western 
Civilization are extroverts. 1 

Another classification is contained in Barbara Ait ken's study 
of North American religion. The author distinguishes the 
individualistic and the social temperament both in individuals 
and in societies or tribes of North America. 2 Although the paper 
refers only to North American societies, the psychoanalyst will 
be the first to acknowledge the applicability of this point of 
view to characterology. The " Catholic " type of mind would 
be the result of the acceptance of the father as an ideal, while 
the " Protestant " or critical or individualistic attitude 
corresponds to what Lorand has called the reactive character, 
that is, character development in opposition to the father-imago. 3 

A division of human beings based on their dominant tendencies 
has been put forward by Freud in one of his recent papers. Our 
psyche consists of three constituent factors, the Id, the Ego, and 
the Super-Ego . There are also three types of human beings 
according to the predominance of these three factors. The 
erotic type of personality represents the demands of the Id, 
and for people of this kind their interest in love is the predominant 
trend of their life. To love and to be beloved makes life worth 
living and the loss of the love of the opposite sex is the great 
anxiety in life. 

In the obsessional type the demands of the Super-Ego outweigh 
all other considerations. There is a great tension between 
Ego and Super-Ego, a strong tendency towards cultural activity 
and anxiety is connected with conscience. 

The third type is mainly negative in its characteristics. 
There is no predominance of Super-Ego or of Ego considerations 
and the main interest is centered in the Ego-activity. Narcisstic 
individuals are more likely to be leading personages and to 
give new directions to culture, while the activity of the obsessional 
type is mainly conservative. 4 

In his earlier writings Freud has taken the first great step 

1 C. G. Seligman, " Anthropology and Psychology," Journal of the Royal 
Anthropological Institute, 1924, p. 54. 

* Barbara Aitken, " Temperament in Native American Religion," Journal 
of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 1930, p. 363. 

8 S. Lorand, The Morbid Personality. 1931, p. 74. 

4 Sigm. Freud/' X)ber libidinSse Typen," Zeitschriftfur Psychoanalyse, vol. xvii. 


towards understanding human character on a dynamic basis, 
In clinical practice we see a human being in the making, or. 
rather, we can go back to early events in human life which have 
provoked certain reactions in the immature Ego. These reactions 
have become displaced to other aims and stereotyped, and thus 
constitute what we now call the character of the adult. Freud 
noticed that a certain group of patients were so exact in their 
behaviour that we might call them pedantic or peculiar, so saving 
with their time and money that this amounted to morbid forms 
of avarice, and finally so true to themselves in everything that 
we might call it obstinacy. Analysis could always demonstrate 
that this was an acquired character. The development of this 
character was shown to be due to the attitude of the parents, 
to the care they took to make the child defecate and urinate 
according to their regulations. The child resented this 
interference and desired to dispose of the pleasure-giving material 
according to its own whim. As an adult it carries over this 
infantile obstinacy to the world in general. Money becomes 
a symbol of the excrements, a process of symbol formation in 
which the contrast element has a large share. Colour, cohesion, 
and value of the symbol are in exact contrast to the original, 
although at least as as value is concerned this contrast is 
really a restoration of the original libidinal valuation. Gold 
represents excrement because gold means the most valuable, and 
excrement the least valuable material, but also because the 
infant originally loves every particle of its body and is far from 
regarding fecal matter as worthless. Freud's researches were 
afterwards carried on by Ferenczi, Jones, Abraham, and others 
till we find that the evolution and nature of the anal character 
is one of the subjects that has received the greatest attention 
in clinical analysis. What we usually call anal character- 
formation ought really to be called a reactive anal character, for 
there is also another type of anal character- format ion in which 
Ego-trends are based not on inverted, but on direct libidinal 

From the frequency of anal characters in clinical analysis 
it was only one step to the conclusion that our culture or the 
type of our social organization in general was based on 
sublimations or reaction formation of anal trends. 1 Where 
else can we find such an organized system of caring for the future, 
such a far-going possibility of " retaining " food-stuffs in a 
symbolical form ? The infant receives nourishment from the 
mother and messes her with its excrements as a symbol of love. 
Civilization has invented a form in which the equivalent of 
nourishment can be retained for any length of time (money) 
and by means of which we can organize this retention (savings 

1 A. Starcke, Psychoanalyse und Psychiatric, 1921. 


bank). No other group of human beings has such exaggerated 
ideas of hygiene and cleanliness, and whoever first said that the 
amount of soap used by a people was a sure indication of their 
level of " civilization " was not far from the truth. Soap, 
money, and regulations. 

On the other hand, I found that a certain happy and careless 
infantile attitude characterizes primitive mankind in general. 
Food forms the bond of union between human beings, and they 
are continually reciprocally reviving the mother-child relation, 
i.e. giving each other food as a sign of goodwill. Our civilization 
is anal, whereas more primitive forms of society are oral. 1 

But the real significance of all these considerations was only 
brought home to me in the course of my field-work. I had an 
intuitive feeling that there was a salient feature in the civilization 
of each area with which I came into contact. The Somali are 
the people who perform the operation of clitoridectomy and 
the sewing together of the labia, and open their wives on the 
bridal night with the aid of a knife ; the Central Australians 
are characterized by the churunga cult and the alknarincha 
women ; the people of Duau (Normanby Island) by the sagari 
and other food-distribution festivals. The Yuma Indians 
appeaf to be characterized by the creation-legend, the mortuary 
festivals (Karook), and their vocation dreams. 

The initiation ceremony in Central Australia consists of two 
operations performed on the boy, and as a compensation for 
what he has to undergo with his penis he receives two churungas. 
The churunga mborka or body churunga is connected with 
circumcision and the namatuna (grass-hitter) with subincision. 
Both types of churunga have a definite purpose. The larger 
type of body churunga is the link that connects the boy with 
his totemic ancestors, while the small churunga enables him to 
win the love of an alknarincha woman by performing an ilpindja. 
An alknarincha, i.e. " eyes turn away " woman, is a woman 
who runs away as fast as her legs will carry her at the sight of 
a man. Ilpindja means " blocking " or inhibition, and is 
the name of the love magic or incantation without which the 
namatuna has no value. The two concepts, however, i.e. 
the alknarincha and the ilpindja, belong together in a peculiarly 
ambivalent fashion. For a woman is made an alknarincha, 
i.e. a woman who resists the advances of the male through 
having been " sung " by an ilpindja. On the other hand, one 
must sing an ilpindja in order to gain the love and to conquer the 
resistance of an alknarincha. Thus, the idea of resistance is 
linked up very closely with that of sexual desire. Moreover, 
the ordinary vocation of the namatuna is to announce the advent 

1 G. R6heim, " Die Volkerpsychologie und die Psychologic der Vdlker," 
Imago, 1926. 


of the initiate and frighten the woman away, but in connection 
with the ilpindja it is a means of attracting an alknarincha. 

For the present all we can see is that ambivalence has 
contributed its share to the formation of the alknarincha idea. 
Nor could we get very much further if it were not for the aid 
brought to field anthropology by psychoanalytic technique. 
As I have explained elsewhere, 1 my method of work represents 
an approach to clinical analysis as far as this is possible in field- 
work. One of my main " informants " or " patients " is old 
Yirramba (Honey ant), a blind old man who was initiated at 
the inkura 2 held by Spencer in 1896, and who speaks of Spencer 
as a personal friend of his. 

On the I4th March, 1929, he had the following dream 3 : 

" Yesterday night I saw a lot of women. They were very 
pretty and they were decorating themselves with alpita (rabbit 
tail or bandicoot tail) and kanta (circular string ornament). 
They had uritchas (pitchis) on their heads. We went up a hill 
and then we ate grass-seed together. A man came and brought 
some lizards and erected a natandja (ceremonial pole). 

" There were two knarrentora arakutya (big or old women) 
who sat in the middle, performed quabara (ceremonies), and had 
churunga on their head. We all ran round the two old women. 
Then we went down a mountain as I kept whirling the namatuna" 

Two days later Yirramba had the following dream : 

" Alknarincha women called me to come and sit down with 
them. But I refused. They killed kurra (kangaroo-rat) and 
got bush-seeds. I dug yams. My father sat in the middle at 
a flat stone called Pulja (Navel). A tree arose where the old 
man was seated. The alknarincha women went hunting and 
came back while the old man performed ceremonies. I was 
making string, some of the women were getting the kanta (circular 
ornament) ready, others were making alpita (bandicoot tail). 
We all whirled the namatuna. Then we were all making 
walupanpa* We all gathered round the old man, I and all 
the alknarincha. We all held the tingari (ceremonial pole) 
and went down into the ground at Pulja with the old man. 
We all went down and became churunga." 

In connection with the first dream he explains the use of 
the uritcha and other wooden dishes. The thing the women 
had on their head was an alpara, the kind of pitchi used for 
carrying children. 6 When the young men swing the namatuna 

1 Cf. "Psycho-Analytic Technique and Field Anthropology," International 
Journal of Psycho- Analysis, xiii, 6. 
8 Written by Spencer engwura. 

3 For reasons of space I give only an abbreviated version of the dreams and 
the association material. 

4 The string worn by the maliara (novices). 
6 First he said it was an uritcha (for water). 


their alchera (ancestral spirit) enters the girl's womb. She 
feels suddenly sick and then goes to sleep and dreams of the 
maliara. When nobody observes her she runs away and follows 
the maliara. Then after a time she vomits and again she 
dreams of the boy, of his alchera, and the namatuna. This 
time she is pregnant. 

The two knarrentora arakutya are like two Aranda women 
at the mission who are both his ankalla (cousins). He loves them 
both (kankama)* when he meets them he kisses them and is 
very happy. 

But the context of the dream shows that his desires regarding 
his two ankalla women are not as innocent as they seem to him. 
For these women are carrying the troughs on their heads that 
serve as a receptacle for the new-born baby and he is whirling 
the namatuna, i.e. making them fall in love with him and 
inpregnating them. Moreover, the woman who is gained by 
means of the namatuna is an alknarincha, and this links up the 
women of the first dream with the alknarincha women in the 
second dream. These, he tells me, were fair like white women, 
they had red hair, and they were very pretty. When he woke 
he looked round but he could not find them. She is, of course, 
much ^ounger than the old man, but he calls her mia (mother) 
according to the classificatory system of relationship, and he 
remarks that he was present when she was born. Then he goes 
on to talk about his own mother and about the arunkulta (evil 
magic) which killed his brother and sister on the same day at 
Alice Springs. 2 Then he asks me about my wife. When is 
she coming back ? Konja, konja (pity) that she went away, 
she was like a mother to him. 

The conclusion to be drawn from these remarks of Yirramba 
is quite obvious. The woman who averts her eyes, who is yet 
desired by all young men is the mother, who appears to be the 
most desirable woman in the world from the infantile point 
of view, but who remains an alknarincha because she refuses 
to grant the incestuous desires of her son. 

The next thing that strikes us in these dreams is the r<51e 
attributed to the alknarincha women. In one of the dreams we 
see the two " old women " in the centre of the scene with a 
churunga (phallic symbol) 3 on their heads that is, in a position 
that can only be occupied by the old knaripata (fathers) in actual 
ritual. The dreamer identifies himself with the young women 
who run round the two old women. In the second he is with 
the alknarinchas t i.e. in the position of an alknarincha with 

1 The expression kankama means rather sublimated -than direct genital 

8 The influenza epidemic. 

8 The phallic meaning of the churunga has been shown in my Australian 
Totemism, 1925. The proofs I obtained in my field-work are conclusive. 


regard to his own father. But what is the father doing ? He 
is kneeling near a flat rock and kneeling is the position both of 
coitus and of the ceremonies. Moreover, when he kneels a tree 
grows out of the earth and a ceremonial pole is erected. The 
place-name means navel, and navel in the sacred songs is a 
frequent euphemism for the vagina or the womb. I was much 
interested in the ending of the dream, in which the dreamer, like 
the heroes of the myth, is transformed into a churunga. " What 
does it feel like ? " I asked. He described the sensation as a sort 
of feeling of sinking into something soft, like soft earth. O yes, 
it was splendid he felt chipa-chipa. What is chipa-chipa ? 
Then he explained that chipa-chipa meant great pleasure, 
supreme happiness, for instance the sensation of coitus. 

The many alknarincha women are a series-formation derived 
from the mother-imago. The situation in which we find the 
father (kneeling at the vagina), and in which he is afterwards 
joined by the women and the dreamer, clearly shows that the 
latent content of the dream is the primal scene, i.e. the coitus 
of the parents. The child represses what he has observed 
because of the phantasies provoked by the scene. One of these, 
as we see from the contents of the dream, is to steal the mother 
from the father and to have intercourse with her, i.e. to do as 
the father does. For the man in the first dream, he tells me, 
looks like Pukuti-wara, a mythical ancestor whose story begins 
by his stealing a woman from another man. He has nothing 
to say about his father, the only thing he keeps repeating is that 
he was present when the old man died and tended him in his 

While these elements of the dream (death of the father, use 
of the namatuna in connection with the mother, the vessel in 
which babies are carried on the woman's head), clearly indicate 
the positive (Edipus trends as one of the dream elements, we 
also see that the child identifies itself with the women in their 
relation to the father. Finally, the dream represents a com- 
promise between the two aspects of the ambisexual (Edipus 
conflict ; the boy, the father, and the mother all become churunga, 
all sink into the ground, i.e. all have intercourse together. 

This explanation of the dream fits well with the moment in 
which the boy receives the namatuna. He is now separated 
from the mother and aggregated to the society of fathers. At 
the same time society offers him a phantasy substitute for the 
beloved mother of his infancy in a woman who turns her eyes 
away, but then after having been enchanted by the ilpindja she 
rushes to him from some distant country. The mechanism of 
symbol formation is very familiar to all those who have analysed 
dreams ; the unknown woman coming from a strange country 
means a woman we know very well and with whom we have 


lived in close proximity the mother. The two knarrentora 
arakutya of the first dream are the cross-cousins of the dreamer, 
and marriage with the cross-cousin here as in other primitive 
societies is just on the border between incest and exogamy. 
However, although the resisting mother as represented by the 
alknarincha is what every boy is trying to get, when he whirls 
the namatuna, yet there are large quantities of anxiety connected 
with this concept, or at least with a sub-species of the alknarincha 
idea called labarindja or allaparinja by old Yirramba. 1 

Both from songs that I have recorded and from Spencer's 
description of illapurinja we see that the concept of 
dangerous and " shy " women, who are therefore specially 
desirable as wives, plays an important part in the life of every 
young Aranda. We can also conclude with a fair degree of 
certainty that the unconscious equivalent of this idea is that 
of the mother with male attributes. One day while I was talking 
about the significance of certain typical dreams with Mulda and 
Wapiti I learnt another important detail regarding the natural 
history of alknarincha. In a dream an alknarincha always 
appears in the shape of a nyurpma (illicit, incestuous) woman, 
and if you dream of an alknarincha you must awake immediately. 
If the 'dreamer does not awake the alknarincha woman will have 
intercourse with him in the inverted position, she will sit upon 
the man's penis. The dangers to be avoided in this are both the 
incestuous nature of the coitus and the female position occupied 
by the man. But the concept of the mother in the male role is 
not merely a phantasy due to the negative aspect of the CEdipus 
complex, it is also an experience, an actual fact in the life of 
every Central Australian male. One of the Ngatatara women 
told me a dream in which her brother was " chasing her " with 
an axe. She concluded the narrative by saying : "I woke up 
and I was lying on Nyiki." If a woman is chased by a man 
that can only mean that he is trying to have intercourse with 
her and the word kula-kula means both to run after a woman 
and the act of coitus. Then they explained that it is the 
custom of the women to sleep so that the body covers that of the 
child, in fact she sleeps on her child like a man who is having 
intercourse with a woman. She will go on doing this till the 
child is about seven or eight years old, especially when the nights 
are cold. 

We can easily understand what this custom means in the 
life of an Aranda or Pitchentara. There is no latency period, 
and both the boy and the mother are naked. Evidently the 
child had an erection as a response to the physical contact with 
her body but she would certainly not permit an immission. 

1 Allaparinja is Aranda choritcha (Eastern Aranda), and labarindja is Aranda 
ulpma (Finke Aranda). 


The Central Australian native therefore gets as near to the 
realization of his incestuous desires as any human being can, 
without actually having intercourse with the mother. This 
is exactly the kind of trauma which is so familiar to us from 
clinical analysis. The child is confronted by a situation which 
contains an overdose of libido for the immature Ego. Repression 
is called to the rescue, and the original experience continues to 
exercise a strong, but unconscious, influence on the destinies and 
character of the individual till it is brought back into consciousness 
and abreacted in analysis. The important difference between 
the Central Australian native and our individual neurotic is 
that in the former the libidinal shock or infantile trauma is 
conditioned by custom. It is an habitual trauma, a common 
experience, and will also be abreacted or dealt with collectively. 
What I contend is that it is this collective abreaction of infantile 
traumata which gives the specific features of each civilization. 
The typically " male " organization of Central Australian tribes, 
in which ritual consists in keeping the women as far away as 
possible, is a reaction formation against the erotic sensations 
conditioned by the infantile situation, by the proximity of the 
mother. The woman who " runs away " was once the woman 
who was in closest contact with the child. The exaggeratedly 
" male " attitude of the mbanja (marriage by rape) is the over- 
compensation of the original infantile passivity with regard to 
the mother. The churunga itself, which may well be called the 
leading symbol of Central Australian totemic society, represents 
this original situation while at the same time it is also an effort 
to deal with it by means of sublimation. For the first churunga 
was the penis of the mythical hero, Malpunga, and the concentric 
circle which covers the surface of the churunga symbolizes the 
vagina or womb. 1 In the churunga cult the men are united and 
the women excluded in the infantile situation the boy is in 
the closest proximity to one woman. But the churunga itself 
is a penis covered by the vagina and thus represents the situation 
which it represses. Moreover, we should not forget that the 
churunga and indeed the whole complex of Central Australian 
totemism form an inextricable unity with the puberty ritual. 2 
When I was working among the Pitchentara and other western 
tribes speaking " Luritja " dialects I found that the climax of 
their ritual, the great mystery of initiation, a word which they would 
only pronounce in whispers and which even Strehlow had never 
heard, was ngallunga. This means both a definite kind of myth 
and a definite form of ritual. Initiation cannot be carried out 

with any kind of totemic myth, but only with a ngallunga story. 


1 Cf. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, xiii. 

2 My field-work has shown me that this unity goes considerably further 
than I could guess in Australian Totemism. 


A ngallunga story is always a myth of the kangaroo (or associated) 
totems, and the typical heroes of the narrative among the Yumu 
are Unami and Yurgna, that is Semen and Testicles. Ngallunga 
in ritual means the part of initiation when the men run backward 
and show the bleeding 1 subincision wound to the child by jerking 
the penis upward. Finally the word ngallunga means " we two 
are friends". Taken in connection with the psychology of 
initiation it is obvious that the formula refers to the relation of 
the initiators to the initiated, of the fathers to the sons. The 
function of initiation is to separate the boy from the mother 
and to aggregate him to a male society. How is this to be 
attained ? By showing him the subincised penis or the 
subincision wound of the men. Now we have not merely the 
skeletons of the ngallunga myths, but also the flesh and blood 
that is the mythical songs. In these songs both the subincised 
penis and the subincision wound are called " kunna ", that is, 
vagina. If we connect this with myths of the alknarincha 
women in which these women appear with three phalloi, 
moreover, with the tradition that the namatuna (bull-roarer) 
was owned by the alknarincha women in mythical times, and it 
was from them that the phallic hero Malpunga obtained it, we 
can see* clearly what might be called the function of initiation. 
Instead of the " phallic mother " of their infancy the boys 
are now to love a " vaginal father ". " We two are friends " 
means " Leave the women and come to the men, we have also got 
vaginae ". Lack of space makes it impossible to go into further 
details or to give other instances from my field-work. What 
I believe is that there is such a thing as a group character, and 
that it is based on the collective sublimation of customary 
traumata, although, of course, not without individual deviations 
from the standard type. A primitive society might be defined as 
a society in which these deviations are small, i.e. in which the 
behaviour of the parents is more uniform than in an advanced 
society. When we shall have more workers in the field trained 
in the use of analytic technique we shall probably find that the 
leading symptoms or characteristic features of primitive tribes 
can be explained as being derived from the infantile traumata 
which habitually occur in these societies. This is what I mean 
by an ontogenetic theory of culture. While the old ideological 
view of history regarded men as actuated by ideas, that is by 
the Super-Ego, while the Marxian view of history believes in 
economical conditions, that is in the Ego, the ontogenetic theory 
of culture interprets humanity in the terms of the Id, and regards 
our impulses as conditioned by the first experiences which the 
infant makes in life as the basis of everything else". In my opinion 
the greatest objection to a Marxian interpretation of history 

1 Blood has been made to flow by using minute stone knives or little chips. 


lies in the clinical experience of psychoanalysis. To say that 
the ideas of a society are a superstructure built up on the economic 
conditions implies that these economic conditions determine 
our actions, even when we are not aware of the fact, i.e. that they 
are unconscious. But when we investigate the unconscious 
we do not find economical conditions. Our ideas or beliefs are 
derived from our infantile impulses ; they are all sublimations 
or reaction formations of the CEdipus complex. " Economic 
conditions " are not supernatural beings derived from the stars, 
but the result of a compromise achieved between man's primary 
impulses and environment. On the other hand, the ontogenetic 
view of culture differs from the phylogenetic interpretation of 
culture, put forward by Freud in the Totem and Taboo, since 
it seeks a less ambitious goal. I think we ought to be able to 
understand culture first in the psychology of the present bearers 
of culture, as the collective neurosis of a group, before we can 
correlate it with the process of psychical transformation which 
took place at the dawn of humanity. I do not mean to say that 
we should give up all hopes of a psychological reconstruction of 
the past, but it seems obvious that a culture, like a neurosis, 
should be traced to its ontogenetic roots before we invoke the 
shades of phylogenesis. This view of culture means an approach 
to theories put forward by the modern anthropological school 
(Malinowski, Mrs. Scligman) who like myself believe that the 
specific determining factors for the development of each type of 
civilization, and also for the character development of the 
individual, can be found in the family situation. 

But we have not replied to the question we started out to 
investigate. How can we regard a group as having a common 
character ? Or how far can we regard culture and character 
as identical ? 

The great problem for a civilized middle-class child is the 
choice of a vocation or a job in life. He can sublimate his 
infantile conflicts or traumata in various ways. We have in 
clinical analysis abundant proofs for the assumption that our 
occupations are determined by the unconscious. But in a 
primitive society there is one path for all and there is a relatively 
greater degree of homogeneity, both as regards the infantile 
trauma and in the Super-Ego sublimation of this trauma, i.e. 
in their culture or group character. 

I do not mean to say that there are no individual differences 
in a Central Australian society. Certainly Pukuti-wara and 
Yirramba and many others had an individuality of their own, 
and to a certain measure I can also trace the sources of this 
individual character development in their analysed dreams. 
The task of the future field anthropologist, trained in the use of 
psychoanalytic technique, will be to investigate the infantile 


roots of collective and of individual character formation in 
primitive societies. 

There is, however, one objection to be made to the ontogenetic 
view of culture. It explains the adult in the terms of his own 
infancy, and especially in so far as that infancy was conditioned 
by behaviour of the previous generation of adults. Then that 
behaviour again remains to be explained, and here we may be 
compelled to call for the aid of other factors, either psychological 
or constitutional. If these factors are constitutional we shall 
have explained how they become psychologically and 
sociologically effective through the medium of infantile 
receptivity. But if these factors are also psychological we seem 
to be moving in a vicious circle, for we have then explained the 
adult as conditioned by the child, and the child as conditioned 
by the adult. 1 Even in this case, however, something will be 
accomplished in finding the psychological formulae of the different 
primitive societies. 

1 Further conclusions are contained in my forthcoming book, The Riddle of 
" the Sphinx." 



The conceptions of sorcery and witchcraft held by the Bantu 
of South Africa vary considerably. The most clear-cut distinction 
between these two forms of nefarious activity appears to exist 
among the BaVenda and the BaThonga. The BaVenda apply 
the term vhaloi (sing, muloi, from u loya " to bewitch ") to all those 
people who employ magic in order to inflict injury or death upon 
others. But there are two quite separate classes of vhaloi : 
those who act unconsciously, and those who deliberately seek to 
harm their enemies through the use of magic. The unconscious 
muloi has a dual personality. By day she is an ordinary 
individual, completely unaware of the dreadful powers she 
possesses. But at night she becomes an evil creature. It is 
said that her spirit leaves her body when she is asleep and goes 
out into the world to carry on its destructive mission in company 
with its fellows, for these vhaloi are believed to associate together 
in a sort of professional guild. On the other hand there is the 
muloi who, consciously and deliberately, either alone or with 
the aid of a nganga (magician), attempts to encompass the 
death of an enemy by magical means. The black magic 
employed is termed madambi. Many magicians are acquainted 
with this means of destruction and are willing, for a large fee, 
to help the muloi carry out his designs. 1 

A distinction almost identical in nature is found among 
the BaThonga. It appears further from Junod's account that 
the evil powers of the " unconscious " baloyi are hereditary. 
" This dreadful power/' he says, " is sucked in at their mother's 
breasts when they are still infants, but it must be strengthened by 
special medicines in order to be really efficient. And again, 
" it is well known that all the sons of a noyi woman are equally 
baloyi." 2 Although he does not go fully enough into this point, 
it is apparent that these baloyi may really be regarded as persons 
with a peculiar biological endowment. Adopting the terminology 
used by Evans-Pritchard in his discussion of Zande sorcery, 
we can, then, speak of the unwitting baloyi as " wizards " and of 
the deliberate malefactors as " sorcerers ". 3 It should be noted, 

1 Cf, H. A. Stayt, The BaVenda, Oxford, 1931, pp. 273-8. 

2 Cf. H. A. Junod, The Life of a South African Tribe, London, 1927, ii, 504 ff . 
8 E. E. Evans-Pritchard, " Sorcery and Native Opinion/' Africa, iv (1931), 

esp. 26-8. 



however, that the distinction he makes in regard to the methods 
employed by these two classes among the AZande is not entirely 
applicable to Venda or Thonga society. 

The BaKxatla, of Bechuanaland Protectorate, appear to have 
merged into one the conceptions of witchcraft and sorcery kept 
distinct by the BaVenda and the BaThonga. 1 They speak, 
it is true, of baloi who go about at night in groups trying to kill 
or harm other people. In many respects their beliefs about 
these baloi correspond to those held by the BaVenda and the 
BaThonga, especially in regard to the animal familiars associated 
with their activities. But it is also maintained that the baloi 
go about in the flesh, not in the spirit, and are always fully 
aware of what they are doing. Moreover, they do not inherit 
their evil powers, but have to learn from the other baloi, and 
any man or woman can become one of them. There are still 
other baloi who do not belong to the fraternity or practice 
the black art habitually. They are content to employ magic 
solely in order to secure vengeance against a particular enemy, 
and would therefore correspond closely to the " sorcerers " 
found amongst the BaVenda and BaThonga. All baloi must as 
a rule . obtain their medicines (dithlare) from the dingaka 
(professional magicians), and on the whole they all practice 
similar methods of destruction. Magicians themselves may be 
hired to work destructive magic against one's enemies, and may 
do so too against their own hated rivals. In such cases they are 
also said to practice boloi (sorcery). There is always the idea 
of deliberate intent behind the activities of the baloi, and their 
motive is invariably one of vengeance, envy, or greed. Nothing 
appears to exist corresponding to the purely physiological 
condition of witchcraft found amongst the BaVenda and the 

The Kxatla moloi who wishes to harm an enemy may 
accomplish his purpose by any of the following methods. He 
may simply put some poisonous substance into beer or porridge 
or other food which he persuades his enemy to take. This 
method is not often employed, although I have actually come 
across several instances of genuine poisoning. It is far more 
usual for the moloi who chooses to use food as his medium to 
put into it some substance which he has previously " doctored/' 
i.e. treated with his medicines. When the unfortunate victim 
swallows the food, this substance (sejeso, " that which is fed ") 
changes into a miniature crocodile or lion or some similar animal 
which gnaws away persistently at his bowels until he dies. 
This particular form of bewitching is greatly feared, for its cure 

1 The information upon which the following notes are based was obtained 
in the course of several trips to the BaKxatla during the years 1929-1931. I am 
gratefully indebted to the University of Cape Town for financing this work. 


is said to be almost impossible. In consequence, many of the 
people, when they go to feasts where they are likely to encounter 
it, " doctor " themselves before leaving home as a protection 
against it. Again, the moloi may enter the hut of his victim late 
at night, and after throwing him into a dead sleep will cut him 
on various parts of the body, into which he introduces small 
stones, fragments of meat, and other particles which have also 
been " doctored/' These foreign elements (dilokwa] cause the 
victim to fall ill, and unless a magician is able to extract them in 
time he will die. 

In these three instances, the moloi acts directly upon the 
body of his victim. On the other hand, he may sprinkle 
" doctored " blood over the court-yard of his enemy's lapa 
(household enclosure), the blood as a rule being that of the 
latter's seano (totem animal) or of some member of his family. 
Should the victim step upon the blood, his feet become affected, 
and he will either die or lose the use of his limbs. Sometimes the 
moloi conceals a bundle of rags containing " doctored " roots 
and other substances in the eaves of his victim's hut, or buries 
them in the ground at the entrance to the latter's lapa. The 
mere presence of these substances (sebeela or sefefa) about the 
lapa will bring illness or death to one of its inhabitants. 

Again, the moloi may take some dust from his victim's 
footprint and work upon it with his medicines ; or he may blow 
some prepared powder in the latter's direction, at the same time 
calling upon his name ; or he may send an animal, such as a 
snake or leopard or ox, to inflict direct bodily injury upon him. 
This last form of sorcery, known as xo neella (" to give over ") is 
said to be very commonly used. Again, the moloi may use the 
lightning as a destructive agent. By working with his medicines 
he can either direct it so that it strikes his victim, or else he may 
go up into the air himself and descend upon his victim disguised as 
the lightning ! This method, known as tladimothwana (" little 
man lightning") is much favoured by magicians in settling their 
grievances against a colleague. 

All these different forms of sorcery are classed together as 
boloi ba dithlare, " bewitching with medicines." The name 
indicates the one great feature they all have in common. For 
their efficacy reliance is placed primarily upon material sub- 
stances of some sort. My informants, whether magicians or 
laymen, all stressed the material substances or " medicines " 
(dithlare, a word whose primary meaning is " vegetation " or 
" trees ") as being by far the most vital element in their magic. 
The rite itself is occasionally important, as is also the spell, but 
this does not apply to all forms of magic. In some magical 
rites no spell at all is used, e.g. in love magic and in certain forms 
of agricultural magic ; while on the other hand the rite actually 


performed is almost always subject to a good deal of variation 
in detail, which does not matter so long as in the main the 
medicines are correctly applied. But the correct medicines must 
be used, otherwise the magic will have no effect at all. As a 
rule, also, no stress is laid upon the condition of the performer, 
save in such exceptional forms of magic as rain-making and the 
destruction of animal pests, which involve the observance of 
certain taboos. The emphasis laid upon this aspect by 
Malinowski and Evans-Pritchard in their general analyses of 
magic does not therefore apply altogether to Kxatla magic. 

In contradistinction to boloi ba dithlare there exist certain 
forms of sorcery known as boloi ba molomo, " bewitching with 
the mouth." Here the material element is entirely lacking. 
The potent factor is the feeling of malevolence, anger, or bitterness 
cherished against a person by someone else. The latter makes 
no use of dithlare, he utters no spells, he performs no special 
rites, nor does he have to observe any taboos or other special 
usages. All the normal ingredients of magic are lacking. The 
only thing necessary is for him to have a bitter heart against his 
enemy. As we shall see later, there is some difference of opinion 
as to whether this really constitutes boloi or not. But the name 
by which it is generally known seems to suggest that on the whole 
the BaKxatla are inclined to class it in the category of sorcery 
together with other forms of malevolent activity against the 
well-being of a person. 

This particular variety of boloi may assume two different 
forms. In the one, known as xo hutsa " to curse ", a person 
definitely threatens his enemy, or expresses the wish that some 
evil will befall him. For instance, when two men quarrel, the 
one who feels affronted may say to the other : ke tla xo hutsa, 
" I shall curse you," or o tla ipdnna, "You will see for yourself 
(what will happen to you)/' or se e nao, " May it (misfortune) 
go with you/' or he may even say outright, " I hope that you 
die, because I don't want to see you in this tribe/' He is then 
said xo bua maswe> "to be speaking evilly." He remains 
cherishing in his heart a feeling of bitterness against his enemy. 
Then should the latter meet with any sort of misfortune, such as 
being gored by an ox, or being badly knocked about in a fight, or 
run over by a wagon, or falling ill, it is believed that he suffers 
this misfortune because of the curse put upon him. The following 
case illustrates a simple form of the curse and its consequences. 
Two young men, Masilo and Raditladi, quarrelled about a girl 
in whom they were both interested. A stand-up fight took 
place in which Raditladi was worsted. As he got up from the 
ground, he said to Masilo : " Well, you'll see what will happen 
to you, because you are no good, I shall curse you." He remained 
very depressed, would not eat his food, and always spoke very 


bitterly of Masilo. A few weeks later Masilo broke off a toe 
against the side of a sled in which he was going to fetch water. 
When this was told to Raditladi, he brightened up considerably, 
saying to the other boys : " You see, I said that something would 
soon happen to him/' This certainly does not seem very much 
like sorcery, but the young men with whom I discussed the 
case all agreed that Masilo had been hurt because of the curse 
put upon him by Raditladi. 

There is a classic instance of xo hutsa in the history of the 
tribe. Masellane, one of the early chiefs of the BaKxatla, was 
abandoned by his sons when he was already very old. He 
called them back, and in the hearing of the people said to them : 
ka le seke le rata kxosi e xola, xo xodile nna, xa le nke U thlwe le 
xolelwe ke kxosi epe moraxo ya me, ya re le fuduxa le mo tloxele, 
" Since you do not like a chief to grow old as I have grown old, 
you will never have any chief grow old on you after me, so that 
you may abandon and leave him " (free translation). It is for 
this reason, say the BaKxatla, that, with only two exceptions, 
none of the many chiefs who followed after Masellane had a 
long reign. 

Another occasion which may give rise to xo hutsa occurs when a 
boy consistently refuses to marry the girl chosen for him by his 
parents. At last they express the hope that he will meet with 
harm. Should any misfortune then come to him, it will be 
attributed to their curse. Or if he marries a girl of whom they 
disapprove, they tell him to his face that they hope he will not 
rear any children, that all his offspring will die. Again, if a child 
is naughty, his parents as a last resort threaten to curse him, 
in the hope that this will induce him to amend his conduct. 
So, too, if a boy finds some object in the veld and does not bring 
it to his malone (mother's brother), whose rightful due it is, 
then should the latter come to hear of it he will hutsa the boy. 
" He thereby tells you straight out that his heart is bitter against 
you, and that if anything happens to you it is because his heart 
is working actively against you." 

It must be emphasized that there is no direct action on the 
part of the person who inflicts the curse. He merely tells you 
that he feels bitter against you, and that he wishes you harm, but 
he does nothing further. If he is not satisfied to let the 
matter rest there and wait for the realization of his threat, he 
may go to a magician and ask him to work against you, e.g. 
by xo neella, by sending an animal to injure you. But in this 
case he becomes a moloi wa dithlare, " a sorcerer of medicines," 
and is no longer moloi wa molomo t " a sorcerer of the mouth." 

Analogous to xo hutsa, and known by the same name, is the 
action of a person who points his index finger at you. He need 
not utter any threat, but you know by his action that he is wishing 


you evil. In effect he is saying, o tla ipdnna, " You will see for 
yourself." Then if any misfortune does overtake you, he will 
be held responsible. 

I tried to discover what the reaction is against a person 
whose curse has brought misfortune upon another. No legal 
action can be taken, such as is permitted with boloi ba dithlare. 
The victim is fully aware, or the diviner will tell him, that his 
misfortune is due to the curse of his enemy, but the tribal court 
does not regard this as an actionable wrong. The only remedy 
is for the victim himself to use sorcery against his enemy, and this 
generally appears to be done. On the other hand, it is possible 
to avert the threatened evil by attempting to restore friendly 
relations before it is too late. If the breach is healed, and you 
are once more on good terms with your former enemy, his curse 
will no longer have effect. Among the other Chwana tribes 
there is a special ceremony of reconciliation performed in such 
cases, but in spite of careful inquiries I have so far been unable 
to find anything of the same sort among the BaKxatla. You 
try to conciliate your enemy with gifts or with fair words, but 
if he does not respond to your overtures nothing can prevent 
misfortune from falling upon you. 

In the type of boloi ba molomo just described, the threat or 
hope is actually expressed that evil will befall the person with 
whom one has quarrelled. On the other hand, the person offended 
may merely brood over his grievance, without uttering any 
curse at all. But his attitude of mind is in itself sufficient to 
bring harm to his enemy. This is known as kxaba (sing.) or 
dikxaba (plur.). Willoughby, speaking of the BeChwana in 
general, summarizes kxaba as follows : " The anger of a living 
father, grandfather, uncle, or elder brother, as well as that of 
the dead, is thought to be physically injurious to its object ; 
and immature members of the offender's household are more 
susceptible to its malign influence. If a child fall ill soon after 
a family quarrel, the diviner is apt to discover that the cause of 
the illness is the anger of the father's elders in family or clan. 
There is no cure for such illness till the anger of the offended 
elder has been assuaged, and he washes the child with ' medicine ' 
and recites the formula over it : 'If it was I, let him heal ! ' " x 

"Kxaba," commented one of my informants, " is something 
incomprehensible. It can happen to anybody with relatives, 
for it is caused by the wish of a relative who is angry with you. 
After the quarrel the medimo (spirits) up above will help his angry 
heart and pray their great ancestor to help on his wish of harming 
the person with whom he has quarrelled. Dikxaba always 
happens after a quarrel in which one person nourishes a sore 
heart against his opponent. Kxaba is not necessarily intentional. 

1 W. C. Willoughby, The Soul of the Bantu, London, 1928, p. 194. 


Even if you don't intend to attack the other person, the fact that 
you feel anger against him is sufficient. Hence if someone comes 
to tell you that you have sent kxaba on to a person who is now 
sick, you need not deny it ; it may be that your heart was 
sore against him long ago, and this has caused evil to fall upon 
him. Hence you must try to avoid quarrels, lest you be suspected 
of sending kxaba. Even after your anger has cooled down, and 
you feel better, thinking that all is now well again, it will take 
effect all the same. 1 ' 

It is obvious from this description that the mere feeling of 
anger or injury on the part of a person with whom one has 
quarrelled is sufficient to bring about kxaba. This name is 
not applied to any specific form of disease, but to any misfortune 
which may overtake one after a quarrel. Kxaba takes effect 
in many ways. The victim may fall ill, the distinctive feature 
of this illness being that it comes suddenly, not gradually. 
Violent headache, or stomach trouble, or perpetual sneezing 
suddenly attacks him, or sores break out all over his body, or 
he feels unaccountably miserable and wretched, or he breaks 
a leg, or a wagon runs over him, or an ox gores him any of 
such misfortunes may befall him. The magician summoned 
to divine its cause will cast his divining bones (ditaola], and 
after scrutinizing them will say that it is due to kxaba emanating 
from such and such a person. Kxaba need not necessarily fall 
directly upon the person with whom one has quarrelled. It may 
affect a very near relation instead ; but, as one of my informants 
remarked, " The effect is as bad upon the person with whom you 
quarrelled, for the sick person is of his blood, and he therefore 
feels as troubled as if it had fallen directly upon himself/' 

The following case-histories illustrate some of the manifesta- 
tions of kxaba. In February, 1932, an unmarried girl named 
JManthso Pilane, who had become pregnant by her lover, suffered 
greatly from protracted delivery and ultimately gave birth to 
a stillborn child. The magician attending to her consulted his 
divining bones, and reported that her illness and the death of 
her child had been caused by kxaba emanating from her father's 
father, who was known to be furious with her for disgracing the 
family name. Again, in June, 1931, a small girl of kxoro 
Makxdphaneng died of a swollen stomach. The diviner said 
that her death was due to kxaba. It was then learned that 
her father had quarrelled with one of his sons, but the kxaba 
instead of passing on to the son had affected the daughter instead. 
So, too, a certain widow of the same kxdro (lineage group) sold 
one of her cows to a neighbour. The cow died soon afterwards, 
and the purchaser complained bitterly that he had been cheated. 
A few weeks later the widow's daughter began to bleed profusely 
through the nose. The magician called in to attend to her 


consulted his bones, which revealed that her illness was due to 
kxaba emanating from the man to whom the cow had been sold. 

Kxaba, no matter in what form it takes effect, is cured by 
washing the body of the patient. This washing must be done by 
the person whose feeling of anger or injury has caused the 
misfortune to occur. The magician, after consulting his bones, 
attributes the misfortune to kxaba emanating from a certain 
person. The latter is then sent for and asked to wash the patient 
with a lotion prepared by the magician. Should he refuse, 
on the ground that he does not feel responsible for the patient's 
condition, the other relatives will accuse him of wanting the 
patient to die ; and they will warn him, thloxo di tla lekane, 
" The heads will be just the same/' i.e. "Just as he dies so will 
you die/' " And it is true after a while that person will also 
die." If he nevertheless persists in his refusal, the magician 
may himself wash the patient, but this is not regarded as equally 

The medicines with which the patient is washed are the 
roots of the bulb thlathsana tsa ramere (also known as kxaba 
because of its use in this connection) and the blades of the 
sanyane grass. These are cut up, ground down to powder, and 
put into a pot of water. The patient, who is inside his hut, 
then has to strip completely, and the person said to have 
" seized " him with kxaba (yo o mo thswereng kxaba) washes him 
all over the body with the mixture which has been prepared in 
the pot. As he does so he repeats the following prayer to the 
ancestors after the magician : bontate lesang ngwana ka pelo 
tsa lona, xe e le rona re mo loketseng bolwetse ka xo bua xa rona, 
" My fathers, release the child with your hearts, if it is we who 
have caused his illness by our speech" (free translation). 
Another form of prayer used on the same occasion is as follows : 
ntata, ke nna ke Iwatsang ngwana o, o ne a nkutlwisitse bothloko, 
ka re ke baya diatla tsa a ka mo xo ene, modimo o mo thuse, ke 
ineetse mo pelong xe ke rate ngwanake xe a ka nthswela a a mpolle, 
" My father, it is I who have caused this child to fall ill, he made 
me feel aggrieved, I tried to place my hands upon him, may 
God help him, I give in to my heart that I like my child, that 
he may come out (of his illness) for me, may he get well for me " 
(free translation). 

Occasionally, however, the treatment is unavailing, and the 
patient dies. Then it is said that the magician has used the 
wrong medicines, or else has made them too strong, " so that 
they burn out the life of the patient." Or, again, the magician 
may simply have caused the patient to be washed, without 
calling upon the ancestors to help in the curing. Their help 
is essential. " They heard the quarrel on earth and will have 
to give healing, because the two who were quarrelling on earth 


did not know what they were doing/' Or, of course, kxaba 
may manifest itself in the form of a fatal accident, and only 
after the death of the person will the diviner discover from his 
bones that the fatality was due to kxaba. 

Sometimes kxaba emanates from a deceased person. The 
diviner says to the patient, " You are sick because your father 
died with a sore heart against you, you did not carry out his 
last wishes/ 1 e.g. in regard to the allocation of the inheritance, 
or some other last request. This variety of kxaba is distinguished 
by the name of kxaba ya badimo, " kxaba of the ancestors/' 
It is cured by the sacrifice of an ox or goat at the grave of the 
offended ancestor. The magician, the patient, and the latter's 
near relatives all go to the grave of the dead person, whether 
it is in the cattle-pen or in the more modern cemetery. As they 
go along, driving the sacrificial animal before them, the patient 
carries with him some mothlodi in a sexo (calabash scoop). 
(Mothlodi is a vegetable substance used in cooking boxobe, native 
porridge.) At the graveside the magician tells the patient to 
put some of the mothlodi into his mouth, bend over the headstone 
of the grave, spit out the mothlodi on to it, and then call upon 
the deceased : ntate, kea utlwa xe o utlwile bothloko, mme ke tla 
ka kxomo ke e, ntate ke title xo xo rapela ka yona, xe ke xo uthvisitse 
bothloko nthswarele, " My father, I hear that you feel aggrieved, 
and I have come with this ox, my father, I have come to pray 
to you with it, if I have caused you pain forgive me/' One 
of the men present then cuts the throat of the animal. It is 
skinned on top of the grave, and the flesh cut so that the moswang 
(chyme) falls on to the branches which have first been put on 
the grave. The magician cuts small pieces of meat from various 
parts of the animal's body, and lays them out on the branches. 
Then he prays to the dead person : re xo bexella kxomo ke e, le 
dinama ke tse o di je, ngwana wa xaxo wa xo rapela, mme o le 
kbpanya babothle bomaxomoxolo le bana ba xaxo babothle o je nabo 
kxomo e, " We bring this ox to you, and this meat, so that you 
may eat it ; your child is praying to you, and all his maternal 
relatives and all your children have come together so that you 
may eat this ox with them " (free translation). He then takes 
up all the pieces of meat from the grave, and cooks them on a 
fire which has been made near by. When they are done, they 
are eaten by all those present. The rest of the meat and the 
skin are taken home, but the moswang is left lying on the grave. 
All the bones of the dead beast are also first gathered together 
and then burned on the fire. The meat taken home is cooked there, 
and all the neighbours are invited to come and eat it. The 
magician takes the letsoxo (foreleg) as his perquisite. 

This sacrifice of a beast (kxomo ya medimo, " beast of the 
spirits ") may be done on the grave of any dead relative, including 


brother and sister and even wife, who is indicated by the diviner as 
responsible for the kxaba by which the patient has been affected. 
No further treatment is applied to the patient. It is held that 
the sacrifice is sufficient to remove the anger of the dead person 
and thus effect a cure. 

It may be noted that not only in kxaba ya badimo, " kxaba of 
the ancestors," but also in ordinary kxaba, the misfortune 
affecting a person is believed to arise from the offended hearts 
of the ancestors. In the case of kxaba ya badimo, the connection 
is direct. In the case of ordinary kxaba , it is said that the 
quarrel on earth between the two relatives is noticed by their 
ancestors, who take the part of the person affronted. It is 
through their agency rather than his that kxaba takes effect. 
The significance of this doctrine may perhaps be more clearly 
understood when it is remembered that kxaba can emanate 
only from one's senior, not from one's junior. It is only when 
you have quarrelled with an older relative that there is a 
possibility of kxaba affecting you. The underlying idea obviously 
is that the offender has violated the respect due to his senior 
relatives, a feature of considerable importance in all Bantu 
society, and therefore has merited punishment. The prayers 
to the 'badimo used in healing both varieties of kxaba show 
definitely that it is they, as the senior relatives par excellence, 
who must be appeased, rather than the living person with whom 
you have quarrelled. 

The association of kxaba with the ancestors is all the more 
interesting in that the BaKxatla have long abandoned ordinary 
ancestor- worship in favour of the Gospel. For the past forty 
years the official cult of the tribe has been Christianity, and most 
traces of the old ancestor- worship have long ago disappeared. 
At the present time few if any of the old people still pray 
regularly to their ancestors, while none of the younger generation 
appear to have more than a very vague and sketchy idea of the 
former tribal religion. Kxaba is one of the very few instances 
in which the ancestors are still believed to influence their living 
descendants. Even the younger people know that in the case 
of kxaba the right treatment involves a prayer to the ancestors, 
but none of those with whom I discussed the subject could say 
why it should be so, or how the ancestors actually cause kxaba 
to work. 

The attribution of kxaba to the anger of the ancestors is hardly 
compatible with the equally common view that kxaba is a form 
of boloi. My informants differed considerably about the con- 
nection between kxaba and boloi. Some of them denied altogether 
that kxaba is a form of boloi, others were positive in asserting 
that it is. Some light upon this confusion is thrown by the 
following statement made to me by one of them : " There is 


a certain custom which our people agree causes sickness. This 
custom is called kxaba. I refuse to call this boloi, because many 
people are indicated in the bones of our magicians as having 
caused it, although it is said that they do not bewitch ; that 
is why I refuse to call it boloi. It is said that kxaba is caused 
by a sore heart, or when a person envies another because of his 
wealth or happiness ; also that a father when he is not satisfied 
with the conduct of his son will send kxaba upon him. Nevertheless, 
it is said that there are people who when they see that another 
person works hard and progresses favourably envy him, and their 
jealousy will cause him to fall ill, and that person becomes sick 
and often dies. This form of boloi can be cured." 

The refusal to regard kxaba as boloi because so many people 
are shown by the diviners to have sent it upon others is rather 
naive. But apart from this, it would almost seem as if there 
has developed a confusion between the misfortune produced by 
the malevolent feelings of other people, and the kxaba caused 
by the anger of an older relative. Both Willoughby's general 
statement and the prayers to the ancestors among the 
BaKxatla suggest that kxaba was originally restricted in its 
application to members of the same family or lineage group, 
while the true boloi ba molomo was the hatred or jealousy felt 
against a person by anybody, including an outsider. But I was 
unable to obtain a clear discrimination between these two forms 
of mental attitude. Both were described to me under the name 
of kxaba. I found, however, that my informants, when given 
a hypothetical case of a man's envious feelings causing another 
to fall ill, immediately termed it boloi ba molomo, whereas when 
asked about kxaba of an offended relative they almost invariably 
hesitated to do so. Probably the marked decay of ancestor- 
worship has contributed greatly to the popular assimilation of 
kxaba with the original boloi ba molomo. 

Psychologically both kxaba and xo hutsa are of considerable 
interest. They are not actually forms of boloi ba dithlare> i.e. 
of " sorcery " in the common sense of the word. But the 
association between a quarrel and consequent misfortune is so 
obvious in a society where the fear of sorcery is still a dominant 
factor that it is easy to appreciate why the tendency to regard 
them as minor forms of boloi should arise. On this point Junod 
has some illuminating facts to record. Speaking of the 
BaThonga, he says : " . . . should a serious case of illness occur, 
one of those evils which are generally attributed to the baloyi, 
the first thing to do is to detect the culprit. Who may he be ? 
The patient's relatives have most probably already some idea 
on this point, because, at the beginning of most buloyi cases, 
something happens which arouses suspicion, and this is a very 
important point to be noted if we wish to find the psychological 


explanation of these customs. Perhaps there has been a quarrel 
between two persons, and one of them, in his anger, has said to 
the other, N'ta ku bona, i.e. ' I shall see you/ On hearing this 
the people immediately say : ' This man is a noyi. He has 
revealed by daylight his crimes of the night/ The man himself 
had perhaps not the slightest idea of such a thing. The same 
conclusion will be drawn if he points to another person with 
his index finger. An imprudent word which at first sight would 
appear quite innocent may have the same result if hostile feelings 
already existed between two persons. Jealousy alone is sufficient 
to give rise to the suspicion even without a word having been 
uttered ". 1 

This description applies equally well to the BaKxatla. It 
brings out very clearly how, in a case of misfortune, suspicion of 
having caused it fastens upon a person with whom you have 
quarrelled or who has a grievance against you. But the 
BaThonga do not appear to share the Kxatla belief that a mental 
attitude alone is sufficient to produce this misfortune. A man's 
known feelings against you suggest that he is probably the sorcerer, 
but if so he must have bewitched you by one of the recognized 
methods of sorcery akin to the Kxatla boloi ba dithlare. The 
BaKxatla, on the other hand, distinguish clearly between boloi 
ba dithlare and boloi ba molomo. They are on the whole rather 
hazy as to the exact mechanism of boloi ba molomo, they cannot 
say just how kxaba and xo hutsa operate to cause misfortune, 
but they are quite convinced that the mental attitude alone is 
sufficient to harm one. Their argument is one of post hoc ergo 
propter hoc. You quarrel with someone, misfortune befalls 
you, therefore he must be regarded as responsible for it. 

Boloi ba molomo is not held to be an actionable wrong, there 
is no legal redress for it, but its effects upon the life of the people 
are well described in the words of an informant. " Many people 
die of kxaba, hence there is no peace in the tribe. You quarrel 
with your relatives, then they fall sick and say it is due to your 
kxaba, then they begin to hate you, because you have sent kxaba 
on them, and they stay with sore hearts, which adds fresh fuel 
to the flames of their hatred/' Even if kxaba is not itself always 
regarded as boloi, it may therefore easily become one of the 
motives for the practice of boloi. Its association with consequent 
misfortune leaves a feeling of bitter injury which often results 
in the attempt to obtain vengeance through boloi ba dithlare. 
By doing so, the injured person lays himself open to punish- 
ment as a moloi. His only lawful remedy is to have himself 
" doctored " by a magician. Then if anybody again tries to 
bewitch him, the medicines with which he has been inoculated 
will fight against the sorcerer and perhaps even kill him. It is 

1 Junod, op. cit., ii, 524-5. 


then said that the sorcerer has brought about his own death, 
and his intended victim is not held responsible. Kxaba in its 
original sense of being an injury caused by the anger of an older 
relative would certainly not have given rise to the practice of 
boloi as a form of vengeance. The fact that nowadays sorcery 
with medicines is often resorted to by people who have been 
affected by kxaba shows that the tendency to regard kxaba 
as a form of boloi is becoming stronger, and that the old idea 
connecting it with the ancestors is gradually dying out. 


It is with peculiar pleasure that I contribute to this volume. 
For twenty-nine years I have been so closely associated with 
Professor Seligman and his work that it is quite impossible for 
me to discover what I owe to his precept ; for though I have 
never been his student in the academic sense, we have worked 
together and have agreed and disagreed on so many subjects 
that there can hardly be one concerning which I have remained 

For this reason I feel that no apology is needed for the 
choice of my subject. Professor Seligman has himself dealt 
with some aspects of it recently in his Huxley Memorial 
Lecture, and I cannot do better than begin by a quotation 
from that lecture : 

" We may well be prepared to accept as actually demonstrated 
the claim that the savage mind and the mind of Western civilized 
man are essentially alike ; for what holds of one mental function 
may be taken to hold of any other, since no mental function can 
be isolated from the organic whole which we call the mind/' l 

Even Professor Levy Bruhl, whose work emphasizes the 
difference between primitive and civilized mentality, considers 
that there is no gulf between the two and hazards the suggestion 
that in all human beings, however highly developed, there 
persists an ineradicable basis of primitive mentality. 2 

In every group, even the most primitive that have been 
described, society demands certain norms of behaviour ; how 
far such norms are formed by repression arising within the 
individual and how far the individual is repressed by society 
is a distinct problem. It is the work of psychology to inquire 
into the contents of these repressions, it is the part of anthro- 
pology to deal with their social expression. Perhaps the most 
remarkable demonstration of repression is the split or divided 
personality, which in its developed form is recognized in our 
own society as abnormal. I suggest that the cultural regulation 
of the manifestations of the divided self is a most powerful factor 
in culture. We may then ask in any given culture : (a) What 

1 " Anthropological Perspective and Psychological Theory " (The Huxley 
Memorial Lecture for 1932), JRAI., Ixii, 1932, 219. 

2 La Mentalite Primitive, The Herbert Spencer Lecture, 1931, p. 26. 



are the manifestions of the divided self ? (b) What scope does 
social heritage l give for their expression ? 

Briefly stated, dreams, mystic conditions, and dissociated 
states are phenomena experienced when the whole self is not 
completely integrated, and though all these are essentially 
individual experiences, all are capable of becoming socialized in 
varying degrees. In our Western European social heritage 
dreams have no important social function ; as a legacy from the 
Bible the prophetic dream has its place, yet public opinion regards 
anyone making use of this concept as odd, though not abnormal. 

Mystic experience, important in medieval times, plays 
a lessening r61e in our social heritage. I am aware that the 
distinction between mystic states and dissociated states is 
somewhat artificial, but for the purpose of defining culture 
their end results make it convenient to separate them. The 
mystic may or may not become dissociated, but during his 
experience motor activity usually plays no important part. 2 
Moreover, the aim of the mystic is to be at one with some super- 
natural power, and the sensation of merging the personality 
with this, or a loss of identity in some cosmic entity, is a common 
feature of mystic experience. In the dissociated states with 
which I* wish to deal, common in savage society and also 
occurring in our own, the subject usually believes that an alien 
personality takes possession of his body. 

Conditions of dissociation are from the cultural point of view 
by far the most important manifestations of the unconscious, 
for they easily become socialized. In these states in savage 
society motor activities play an important part, as they do in 
a number of pathological cases in our own culture. In our 
social heritage precedents for dissociated conditions exist, and 
one of the most obvious conditions of dissociation, that attributed 
to demoniacal possession, formed an integral part in the beliefs 
of the whole Western civilization until well into the eighteenth 
century. The belief is defended by the Roman Catholic Church, 
which maintains that spiritualistic mediums are the victims of 
demoniacal possession, but at the present time in the West 

1 Graham Wallas divides nurture into two parts. The first part consists of 
that which each one of us acquires for himself. The second part consists of the 
knowledge and expedients and habits which were originally the acquisition 
of individuals but which have afterwards been handed down from one genera- 
tion to another by the social process of teaching and learning (Our Social Heritage, 
London, 1921, p. 16). 

2 William James describes the essentials of mystic states. There is intense feel- 
ing, insight, or knowledge ; moreover, they are of relatively short duration, and 
are characterized by passivity : " When the characteristic sort of consciousness 
once has set in the mystic feels as if his own will were in abeyance, and indeed 
sometimes as if he were grasped and held by a superior power. This latter 
peculiarity connects mystical states with certain definite phenomena of secondary 
or alternative personality, such as prophetic speech, automatic writing, or the 
mediumistic trance " (The Varieties of Religious Experience, London, 1907, p. 381). 


spiritualists form the only organized body of any importance 
that definitely encourages the practice of dissociation. The 
ritual is conventional and usually follows a definite pattern. 
It is notable, however, that dissociation is as a rule only induced 
in the medium ; the votaries remain as interested spectators 
and rarely themselves become dissociated. Dissociation as 
practised by the spiritualists has but a limited influence 
on the general public ; anyone who feels interested in either 
their beliefs or practices must make a personal effort to get in 
touch with a group of believers or experimenters. On the whole 
it would be fair to say that public opinion does not encourage 
either the beliefs underlying spiritualism or its practice, that 
orthodox religion upholds the former while it condemns the 
latter, and that science is inimical to both. 

When we come to the direct outcropping of the unconscious 
in ill-health, public opinion is positive. It will have none of it. 
Of the loss of conscious control and the manifestation of the 
divided self under the influence of infection or alcohol, public 
opinion is fairly tolerant. These are recognized as deliria, 
important as symptoms but in themselves regarded as 
insignificant. When, however, an individual without such 
recognized causes acquires the habit of dissociation, public opinion 
is alarmed his conduct differs so widely from that of the mean 
that he is considered queer or definitely mad, and society must 
be protected from him. Persons in such states being excluded 
from normal society, their behaviour has no influence on public 
opinion and remains merely individual experience. 

Similar behaviour, and the mental state accompanying it, is, 
however, part and parcel of many of the lower cultures and may 
constitute a powerful element in their social heritage. For this 
reason analyses of statements occurring and of dramatic acts per- 
formed in such conditions in our own society should be important 
in throwing light on savage behaviour, and I therefore record 
the following case. 

M. was in rather poor health when the responsibility for X., 
an hysterical subject, was thrust upon her. After some days 
she considered it better to put X. in charge of someone else. 
It was after leaving X. with a responsible person that she was 
aware of an overwhelming fear. Something in X's case had 
started a train of thought, and M. began to fear that she might 
have harmed the person in life dearest to herself. For about 
thirty-six hours she was obsessed with this fear, while at the 
same time suffering deeply from the general anxiety due to 
the War. M. had had very little sleep for some time, possibly 
for about a week, and this may have been a contributory cause 
to the lack of higher control which ensued. The dramatic act 
took place in a flower-shop, where she had gone with a companion. 


She became interested in choosing the flowers, not for themselves 
but for the intense emotional value which she attached to them 
at the moment. She rejected certain flowers for this reason, 
and asked for others that reminded her of her childhood ; up 
to this time she was perfectly aware of her thoughts and the 
motives for her speech and actions, though afterwards she 
recognized that such symbolism was unusual in herself. Then 
at a certain moment as she stated she ceased to be master 
of her actions ; she was intensely aware of her muscular move- 
merits and her emotions, but not of any motivation. The 
ordinary associations with shops, such as asking for objects and 
paying for them, vanished. She seized a bunch of flowers from 
the staging in the window, grasped it firmly in her right hand, 
buried her nose in the blossoms and inhaled deeply. She can 
remember how tightly she grasped the flowers, how repulsive 
their colour was to her, but that at the same time their sweet scent 
gave a great sense of comfort. She walked quickly out of the 
shop on to a crowded pavement, with every breath taking comfort 
from the scent. Suddenly she raised her head and became aware 
only of the abhorrent colour of the flowers. She then released 
her grasp, and straightened her fingers with a jerk. The flowers 
fell to the pavement ; her companion, who had followed her 
from the shop, bent to pick them up, but she signed to him not 
to do so. She longed passionately for him to put his foot on 
them, but she did not speak. In another minute she said to 
him, " I am all right now, let us go and have tea." Her inward 
comment was, " Now that will never worry me again/' She 
did not, however, analyse what that was, but she knew, and 
vaguely realized, that she had disposed of a worry in an unusual 
manner. For the rest of that day, she said, she felt normal. 

The colour of the flowers symbolized X., and at the same time 
they represented the aberration from which X. suffered. It was 
clear that X's aberration was closely connected with, if not directly 
due to, the conduct of Y. and X's reaction to Y. The fear in 
M's mind was whether her own beloved N. could have been 
injured by herself in the way that X. had been injured by Y. 
She explained that she did not throw away the flowers, but that 
her hand opened, and that with the palm flattened and the 
muscles of her hand tense she felt that a definite cleavage between 
herself and the flowers had taken place. At that moment the 
flowers only symbolized the abhorrent idea, X's aberration. 
When she became aware of her companion, M. supposed that he 
understood the meaning of her action, and she was disappointed 
that he did not crush the flowers and give finality to the drama. 
The idea that he might pick them up and give them to her had 
filled her with misgivings. 

Though M. accepted with gratitude the relief that she had 


gained from this dramatization, she recognized that her behaviour 
was entirely outside the accepted norm in her own social heritage, 
and even during the few weeks of illness which followed, when 
symbols had peculiar importance to her, whenever she was 
aware of a tendency to use them dramatically she checked 
herself. When she had regained normal health she was impressed 
by the fact that without any unravelling of the worry her 
behaviour with the flowers had given complete relief. She recognized 
that the idea of N. having suffered harm through her was really 
absurd, and that the analogies in X's case which had suggested 
it were due to superficial coincidences, but, in the condition in 
which she had been, either rational thought did not occur, or 
was not accepted as it gave no emotional satisfaction. 

M. had drawn her satisfaction mainly from very simple 
muscular activity. She was aware of her deep breathing when 
she inhaled the scent of flowers, and derived joy from it. The 
intensity of her grip on the flowers was important to her, as was 
the jerking open of her hand. Each of these activities expressed 
strong emotion. The self, relieved of conscious control, seized 
upon a primitive and satisfactory method of dealing with the 
emotion that of dramatization. 

Certain negative aspects of M's actions must be noted 
for comparison both with S. W. (to be described later) and 
with " shamans " in savage society. M. was aware that her own 
volition ceased, yet she felt that it would have been impossible 
for her to act otherwise than as she did ; the command was 
imperious, and seemed to come from without. She did not 
believe in supernatural agencies, but in discussion she said that 
it would have been easy to suppose that some external 
force, might have been in command of her actions. 
M's companion did not understand her actions, and it did not 
occur to him to take part in the drama. M. was entirely unaware 
of this, and when he bent to pick up the flowers she supposed 
that he understood all they symbolized to her and that he wished 
her to shoulder again something which she considered an 
intolerable burden ; her divided self thus inferred social 
cognizance of her behaviour. 

S. W., described by Jung, 1 came of a family with neuropathic 
inheritance. She was of average intelligence, her education 
somewhat neglected and her interests limited. She heard about 
table-turning and began to take interest in it, at first as a joke, 
but was discovered to be an excellent medium. 

" In somnambulic dialogues she copied in a remarkably clever 
way her dead relations and acquaintances. . . . She also . . . 

1 "Psychology of Occult Phenomena," Collected Papers on Analytical Psy- 
chology, second edition, London, 1917, pp. 16 et seq. 


closely imitated persons whom she only knew from descriptions. 
. . . Gradually gestures were added to the simple speech, which finally 
led to attitudes passionelles and complete dramatic scenes. . . . 
At the end of the ecstacy there usually followed a cataleptic 
state with flexibilitas cerea which gradually passed over into the 
waking state. ... At first the attacks occurred spontaneously, 
afterwards S.W. could provoke them by sitting in a dark room 
and covering her face with her hands. ..." 

During times of divided personality her grandfather was her 
" guide " and her spirits took complete possession of her. 
S. W. firmly believed in her " spirits " and resented any explana- 
tion, moreover regular believers attended her seances. After 
some time she became stale and was caught cheating. She then 
gave up working as a medium, the somnambulic attacks ceased, 
and she became an industrious and responsible person. In other 
words, she failed to retain her enhanced social status in a limited 
group, and returned to the larger community as a normal member. 

These typical cases indicate the scope our Western social 
heritage has to offer to the dissociated ; their experiences either 
remain individual and abnormal, or are accepted as desirable and 
are conventionalized and accepted by small groups which are them- 
selves regarded as abnormal by society as a whole. Turning now to 
the manifestation of the divided self in savage society, I shall 
pass over briefly the part played by dreams and mystic experience, 
and shall contrast the role of the dissociated state in savage 
society with its treatment in our own culture. 

The part played by dreams in savage society is undoubtedly 
important. Current beliefs concerning dreams will assuredly 
influence the dreamer, and the connection between dreams and 
the belief in life after death is well known. The dream per se 
is essentially an individual experience ; although the meaning 
attributed to it may be accepted and acted upon by society, yet no 
man can see another's dream, nor can his dream personality come 
in contact with the dream personality of another. Even so, 
the individual experience of the dream can form the basis of 
a rite and possibly of a cult, and the accompanying ritual may be 
conventionalized. 1 The mystic state and the dream, though 
capable of ritual and social treatment, are both essentially 
individual. Neither of these conditions, convincing as they may 
seem to the re-integrated individual, has the advantage of the 
dissociated or semi-dissociated state for socialization. In the 
latter the inner experience is expressed by gesture and dramatic 
action, and symbols may be used. The phenomenon can be 

1 For an interesting discussion of " Winnebago " type of religion based on 
personal experience, and the more obvious social and ritualistic Pueblo religion, 
see Barbara Aitken, " Temperament in Native American Religion," JRAL, 
vol. Ix, 1930. 


observed and interpreted by onlookers, whether accompanied 
by words or not. These states satisfy repressed emotions in 
the observer and tend to be contagious. 

In savage society, ritual, which gives full scope to the divided 
personality of its leaders, fulfils the function of releasing emotion 
into socially recognized channels, thus preventing individuals 
from discharging it erratically or anti-socially. 1 

In Vedda culture the experience of its prominent members 
during dissociation is completely integrated into the social 
organization of the community, and thus constitutes an excellent 
example of the social function of dramatization. In 1908 (the 
date of our Vedda investigation) a few hunting Veddas, entirely 
dependent on the chase and the collection of wild food-stuffs, 
still existed. Their communities were small, consisting of a few 
closely related families. The leader of the group, who was at 
the same time head of the family, was the priest or shaman, 
trained in methods of dissociation. Vedda beliefs centre round the 
cult of the dead, associated with that of culture heroes whose lives 
are dramatized in ritual dances. From infancy Vedda children 
with their mothers watch the ceremonies in their group, so that 
dissociation and the significance attributed to it become 
familiar to all. 

" The method of invocation of the yaku [spirits] is essentially 
the same in all Vedda ceremonies ; an invocation is sung by the 
shaman and often by the onlookers, while the shaman slowly dances, 
usually round the offering that has been prepared for the yaku. 
... As the charm is recited over and over again the shaman 
dances more and more quickly, his voice becomes hoarse and he 
soon becomes possessed by the yaka, and, although he does not 
lose consciousness and can co-ordinate his movements, he never- 
theless does not retain any clear recollection of what he says, and 
only a general idea of the movements he has performed. . . . The 
shaman . . . surrenders himself to the dance in the fullest sense, 
and it is this, combined with a high degree of subconscious 
expectancy, which leads him to enact almost automatically and 
certainly without careful forethought the traditional parts of the 
dance in their conventionally correct order. Further, the assistant, 
who follows every movement of the dancer, prepared to catch 
him when he falls, may also greatly assist by conscious or uncon- 
scious suggestion in the correct performance of these complicated 
possession dances." 2 

The ceremonies are performed for definite consciously 
determined purposes, and the shaman begins his performance in 
a fully conscious condition ; the invocations are traditional, 
and there are certain traditional objects, mostly arrows of a 

1 All ritual cannot be looked upon in this light. Much is little more than the 
recognized correct way of doing things, and has little or no emotional significance. 

2 C. G. and Brenda Z. Seligman, The Veddas, Cambridge, 1911, pp. 133-5. 


ceremonial type, which are associated with particular spirits 
and are looked upon as their emblems. Shamanistic dances 
are performed after a death, during pregnancy to ensure safe 
delivery, and to bring good luck in the search for food, hunting, 
honey-collecting, and gathering of yams ; when the spirits are 
present questions are asked them concerning the health of 
members of the community who may be ailing. Close association 
with the spirits is maintained. Not only are they invoked when 
the people need their help, but when in luck, e.g. when a sambur 
deer is killed, a dance is held and offerings made to the spirits. 

Besides the shaman, spectators who are emotionally involved 
also become possessed. In a ceremony performed after the death 
of a man his two brothers became dissociated ; the spirits of the 
dead spoke through the shaman to their relatives, showing them 
favour by feeding them or smearing food on their bodies. 

In spite of a definite pattern adhered to in every dance, in 
the communities we visited there was considerable variation in 
the incantations and the preparations made for the dances ; 
in the latter especially, contact with Sinhalese neighbours in 
certain localities had led to elaborations. Besides this the 
shaman, though he followed a traditional method, gave individual 
messages to some of the onlookers, and there can be little doubt 
that when in a dissociated state ideas that originated in his 
divided self became expressed. 

Tension, especially obvious in a brother of the dead man, 
was present in the Vedda community for several days after 
a death, before the performance of the ceremony and during the 
ceremony there was a great release of emotion. The brothers 
of the dead man became possessed by the spirit, and all the 
children and near relatives were fed ceremonially by the spirit 
in the person of the possessed shaman. After the ceremony 
calm again reigned ; emotion had been released into recognized 
social channels, and not only had those immediately concerned 
been relieved but the whole community had taken part. 

Among the Veddas we see the abreaction of anxiety expressed 
by behaviour closely similar to that of M. Higher control is 
lessoned or entirely disappears. Gesture and action largely take 
the place of speech, and symbols (or emblems 1 ) are used. But 
the anxiety of the individual is given social significance, and the 
satisfaction that follows the abreaction is felt by the whole 
community. The head of the family is the social and religious 
leader ; he is therefore emotionally concerned (to a greater or 
lesser degree) in every ceremony that he performs for a birth or 
death in the community, while for obvious reasons ceremonies 

1 Psychoanalysts limit " symbol " to a symbol chosen by the unconscious, 
regarding consciously recognized symbols as " emblems " (Ernest Jones, " The 
Theory of Symbolism," British Journal of Psychology, vol. ix, 1918). 


for success in hunting must concern the whole community. 
The lack of specialization within the group makes it possible for 
any manifestation of the dissociated individuals to become 
completely socialized. 

Among peoples whose social organization is more developed, 
priests and medicine-men who practise dissociation are more 
definitely specialists than they are among the Veddas ; though 
their influence may be great where women and children are 
not permitted to witness their performances nor the uninitiated 
to take part in them it can hardly be so uniform as among the 
Veddas. Still, among the majority of savage peoples this mode 
of expression is legitimate and is socialized in ritual channels. 

In the Sudanese battalions, which in 1909 were all officially 
Muslim, we were able to observe some interesting adaptations 
from tribal to regimental life. A company of Diga, a tribe 
calling themselves Azande, had been recruited from one locality 
and were accompanied by their own women. Like many other 
units they held a zar on Fridays. Zar, performed in the harems 
in Egypt 1 and many other Muslim countries, form a special 
outlet for the abreaction of emotion, but are unorthodox, and 
disapproved by the Ulema. The ceremony is practised by a 
confederacy of persons who may be regarded as hysterics. Women 
who have suffered illness or shown some idiosyncracy or other 
symptom of " possession " meet under the direction of an expert, 
who is herself a woman possessed by a spirit. Under the 
influence of her own familiar she controls the spirits of the other 
women, who pass into dissociated states, when their spirits make 
their own demands and complaints. 

The Diga zar was not confined to women ; the chief dancer 
and master of the ceremonies was one Farag, a corporal, said by 
his English officer to be very efficient. As an infant in his own 
country Farag had been unable to suck and had been fed by his 
grandmother, who chewed sugar-cane and spat the juice into 
his mouth ; a medicine-man had been called, and the child was 
found to be possessed by the spirit of an ancient Zande king. 
The spirit showed no further sign of its immanence until Farag 
was twelve years old, when he fell ill ; a ceremony was held and 
a sacrifice made. Later a second spirit, related to the first, 
also became immanent in Farag, and this was regarded as a sign 
of favour. It was of vital importance to Farag to hear the drum 
occasionally, so that he could dance and give his familiar spirits 

1 We did not find zar practised by the Kababish a nomad Arab tribe of 
Kordofan and Mr. Bertram Thomas states that m Arabia they do not flourish 
in the desert but are common in the coastal fishing villages in Oman. The 
Umm az-Zar (mother of the zar, mistress of the ceremonies), is usually a negress, 
and the participants chiefly women (Alarms and Excursions in Arabia, 1931, 
p. 261). See also Niya Salima, Harems et Musalmanes d'figypte', Brenda Z. 
Seligman, " On the Origin of the Egyptian Zar," Folk-lore, xxv, 1914, 


occasion to express their wishes, yet on parade he was able to 
control his familiars and did not dance. Farag's performance 
has been described elsewhere. 1 He passed into a genuine auto- 
hypnotic state, and in this condition performed dramatic actions, 
all probably based on tradition, though certain incidents showed 
that at least some of these were adapted to the occasion, as when 
he stopped his dance to inquire the reason for our presence. 2 

We witnessed another zar of a different type in a Sudanese 
battalion at Kodok. This battalion had been recruited from the 
Khalifah's prisoners ; they were a mixed lot, including persons 
of varying ages, many of the younger having been born in 
captivity. Here, though men were present and played the 
musical instruments, while we watched women only became 
possessed. One after another they left the crowd of onlookers, 
fell on their knees, jerked their bodies violently, became 
possessed by their spirits, and made various requests and 
announcements, often asking for some particular tune. When 
the music ceased the spirits departed ; as a rule the women 
remained inert in a sitting posture, whereupon an old woman 
came and crossed and recrossed their arms and bent their necks, 
after which most of them would get up and quietly go away. 

In both these zar there were a number of objects of various 
kinds placed on a stand which had been rigged up for the occasion ; 
most of them had been specially demanded by some person when 
possessed. Both zar present interesting adaptations to changed 
circumstances. There is little doubt that had Farag remained 
among his own people he would have fitted harmoniously into 
his surroundings and become a person of social importance. 
He was well balanced enough to become a corporal, and 
the alien Muslim practice of the zar gave outlet to his 
tendency to dissociation, while his associates looked up to him 
as an individual in personal contact with their tribal spirits and 
thus fit to be consulted on matters of importance concerning the 
members of the company. In the other zar, as well as those in 
Cairo described by Niya Salima, 3 the condition is different. 
Certainly the older women, who claim to be possessed and, as 
experts, preside at the meetings, gain social and pecuniary 
advantage. But their clientele is not the community at large, 
as in untouched savage society, but individuals of hysterical 
tendency. The spirits are usually regarded as unfriendly, are 
often foreign, and may sometimes need exorcism. In fact 
two deaths have been recorded in the Sudan due to the violent 

1 Brenda Z. Seligman, op. cit. 

3 During the dance Farag was the complete " savage " ; his movements were 
violent, his expression furious and strained, betokening great release of emotion 
and contrasting with his conventional and unemotional demeanour when later 
he came to talk to us, the correctly attired corporal of his company. 

3 Op. cit. 


methods adopted by the exorcists. 1 In the battalion at Kodok 
it is probable that all the women from the married quarters 
may have attended the zar, while from Niya Salima's description 
it would appear that spirit possession flourishes chiefly in the 
large harems, especially where negress slaves are found. So here 
we find the " possessed " forming cliques in the social milieu, 
within which the phenomenon is doubtless contagious, a condition 
in many ways similar to that of spiritualists in Western society. 
The practices are tolerated, though disapproved by the upper 
section of society. 

To sum up : In savage society the behaviour of persons in 
dissociated states is in harmony with belief and custom, moreover 
the persons subject to this condition are far from being reputed 
unstable members of the community ; on the contrary, they 
are frequently leaders. There is usually an elaborate system of 
myth and ritual, which is familiar and on which behaviour 
during dissociation is based. There is thus a reservoir of material 
upon which the divided self can draw, and to which it constantly 
adds. The social significance given in this way to unconscious 
material becomes a very powerful factor in culture ; its 
importance in the savage's social heritage and its relative 
insignificance in our own may possibly account for much of the 
difference between savage and civilized behaviour. Further, 
when we consider that persons in dissociated states alter or 
add to their ritual, and take into account the widespread capacity 
for dissociation and the varying forms of belief connected with 
this, it seems legitimate to assume the beginning of 
shamanistic ritual in spontaneous personal dissociation. If the 
emotions which are given dramatic form by the divided self 
are of a type that might be experienced by any member 
of the community, and are in harmony with the existing social 
heritage, then the satisfaction drawn from the action is com- 
plete, and suffices for the initiation of fresh ritual. 

1 " Two Murder Trials in Kordofan," Sudan Notes and Records, iii, 1920, 


An African, Mr. Julius Ojo-Cole, has put forth the claim 
that whenever Europeans set out to do anything for his people 
they should " search first for the African conception about it ". 
There certainly was, he says, a system of training youth for the 
responsibilities of manhood before the advent of white men, 
and the educationist should ask : What is the principle under- 
lying this system, and what is the method ? l It seems a 
reasonable claim. Until recently the people responsible for 
schools in Africa have, in general, worked on the assumption 
that Africans have no culture that is worth perpetuating and 
no method of transmitting it that need be taken into account. 
When Dr. C. T. Loram wrote his standard work, The Education 
of the South African Native (1917), it was the schooling by 
Europeans that he had in mind ; the African's previous experience 
was dismissed in a sentence or two. 2 The Phelps-Stokes 
Commission, which gave a distinct impetus to the development 
of educational policy, scarcely hinted that Africans trained 
their children before Europeans appeared on the scene. The 
latest review of the subject, contained in a bulky volume issued 
by the International Colonial Institute, 3 is content to notice 
that the young of whole races were " before our arrival . . . 
generally left in ignorance " . Some advance was made by 
Mr. Victor Murray who recognizes that there were two sorts 
of education among Africans : " vocational," the training in 
use of tools ; and " liberal ", found " in the initiation ceremonies 
and other mysteries which concern the life of the person as a 
member of a society, mortal and at the same time immortal". 
Neither type goes very far, he thinks, and their bias is con- 
servative and communal ; but he sees that they make for 
discipline, self-restraint, and other virtues. 4 

It appears then that educationists are at last coming to 
realize that there is something in African education which is 
worthy of their attention. Apart from Dr. Mumford's experiment 

1 West Africa, 24th August, 1929. 

2 " Before the coming of the white man the education of the South African 
native consisted in his adjustment to the narrow environment of his tribe through 
direct imitation of his elders," p. 28. On p. 7, he allows that the " almost 
superstitious reverence for the chief " was accompanied by strong family 

3 L* Enseignement aux Indigenes (1931), p. 30. 
* The School in the Bush (1929), p. 84. 



at Malangali, in Tanganyika Territory, I know of no school 
where the principle is deliberately adopted of building on 
native tradition and making the training continuous with that 
which existed prior to the advent of the European. 1 The 
comparative negligence is all the more surprising in that, as 
General Baden-Powell has acknowledged, the Boy Scout move- 
ment, the most fruitful of modern educational developments, 
owes a great deal to Africa. 

Hitherto ethnographers in the field have not adequately 
explored this subject. No scientist has done for the juveniles 
of Africa what Margaret Mead has done for those of Samoa and 
New Guinea. 2 Mr. Hambly's Origins of Education among 
Primitive Peoples (1926), reveals only too clearly the wide gaps 
in our knowledge. Much further investigation is necessary 
before the values in the indigenous system can be known and 
applied universally. 

It is more than possible that the comparative neglect of the 
subject is due to a restricted view of the nature of education. 
So long, as it is defined in terms of school the observer has nothing 
to study, for the pagan Africans had no such institutions. But 
to think of education as if it were or could be given only through 
schools is to take a part for the whole. Schooling and education 
are not synonymous terms : some people, like Bernard Shaw, 
may complain that their schooling did them a great deal of harm 
and no good whatever that, indeed, it only interrupted their 
education. J. S. Mill claimed that education comprehends 
even the indirect effects produced on character and on the 
human faculties by things of which the direct purposes are 
different : by laws, by forms of government, by the industrial 
arts, by modes of social life ; nay, even by physical facts not 
dependent on human will, by climate, soil, and local position. 
Recognizing that for practical purposes this description is too 
wide, Mill restricted education to " the culture which each 
generation purposely gives to those who are to be its successors, 
in order to qualify them for at least keeping up, and if possible 
for raising, the level of improvement which has been attained ". 3 
Others define education as the influence of the environment 
upon the individual to produce a permanent change in his habits 
of behaviour, of thought, and of attitude. 4 They recognize, 
however, that while the whole of the environment is the 

1 W. B. Mumford, Africa, vol. iii, No. 3 (1930). 

2 Coming of Age in Samoa (1929) ; Growing up in New Guinea (1931). 

8 Quoted by John Adams, The Evolution of Educational Theory (1922), 
pp. 10, 11. 

4 G. H. Thomson, A Modern Philosophy of Education (1929), p. 19. 


instrument of man's education in the widest sense, certain factors 
are distinguishable as being more effectively operative ; and of 
these factors the school is only one. There is, indeed, conscious 
and unconscious education, and the conscious type may be 
formal or informal. 

In this paper I regard education as the whole process by 
which one generation transmits its culture to the succeeding 
generation. If this broad view be accepted, it is impossible to 
deny that Africans educate their young. Their culture consists 
of a whole complex of institutions, handicrafts, industries, 
manners, customs, laws, knowledge, beliefs, values, language. 
Each generation as it comes along does not begin de novo ; it 
takes over all these things as its social heritage and passes them 
on in its turn, more or less modified. In this matter, Africans 
do not differ essentially from ourselves. We have our social 
heritage, which is of no less importance than the biological 
inheritance. The African's differs in its elements, but radically 
is of the same kind. His mechanism of transmission is not of 
an entirely different sort from ours. The point of divergence 
lies in the fact that we have a system of writing and that the 
school, which seizes our youth continuously from early age to 
adulthood, has as its unique and essential (though not its most 
important) function to teach its pupils to read and to know 
good books. 1 

Since education is the transmission of culture, to describe 
the content of African education would be to describe the whole 
life of the peoples. To do that here is obviously impossible. 
We must be content to say that the five essentials may be postu- 
lated for Africa equally as for other parts of the world. " Let 
it be granted, as Euclid would say, that a child, that anybody, 
must know something of the world of things, the world of people 
and the world of ideals, that he must have tools to use, and that 
he must develop his aesthetic and creative sense/' 2 

The environment into which the child is born consists first 
of the land upon which his people dwell : the plains, forests, 
mountains, rivers, springs, and- lakes ; the pasturage, the arable 
areas, the hunting and fishing grounds. It includes the wild 
and domestic animals ; the forest fruits, the grasses, the edible 
and other plants. There are the heavens too, and the weather. 
All these things set the conditions in which the Africans live. 
About them a certain degree of knowledge has accumulated ; 
certain emotional attitudes, certain sentiments have grown 
around them ; and upon his adjustment to them the African's 
existence depends. The younger generation must be given 
1 G. H. Thomson, op. cit., p. 39. 2 V. Murray, op. cit., p. 155. 


that knowledge, brought to adopt those attitudes, taught to 
make that adjustment. They must learn to make and use the 
tools which the experience of the past has evolved : spear and 
axe and hoe ; baskets and pots. The child is born, too, into a 
human environment : his family, clan, and tribe ; and the wider 
circle of friends and foes. He cannot live alone : every act, 
thought, and emotion is conditioned by other human beings. 
He must learn to live in his group, to maintain it, to defend it, 
to propagate it. To this end he must be disciplined into control 
of his instinctive impulses. The manners, customs, laws, 
inhibitions which the experience of the past has proved 
necessary to the integration of the social structure must be made 
bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh. Decency of speech and 
behaviour, respect for his superiors in age and rank, a diligent 
sharing of the common tasks, must be inculcated. In particular, 
social life involves regulation of the commerce of the sexes ; 
the canons of correct behaviour as understood by the tribe must 
be learnt : a complicated system of avoidances, taboos, 
permissions, must be acquired and passed on. In all these 
matters there is constant tension between natural impulses and 
the welfare of the community, and only a rigorous code of 
morality backed by strong sanctions can avail. Moreover, 
the African community consists not only of the individuals 
who live visibly in the flesh but also of those whom we civilized 
folk name " the dead ". The newly-born infant is the reincarna- 
tion of a person who after passing through all the stages of 
mundane existence went to sojourn for a time in the world of 
the invisible. Between the " living " and the " dead " there 
are certain obligations upon the right observance of which the 
welfare of both depends. And beside these ancestral spirits 
there are other mysterious powers to which the living must 
adjust themselves, whether to use or to avoid. Ideals of physical 
form and quality, of intelligence, of moral character, are involved 
in the process of standardization to which the young are subjected. 
The Africans have very definite ideas as to what constitutes good 
citizenship and they seek to mould their offspring in accordance 
therewith. They also have their own standards of beauty in 
natural forms, in art, and in language. They find joy in the 
making of things that in some measure satisfy their sense of 
what should be. Music and the dance take a large place in their 
culture. And all these component parts of it are handed on. 
The Africans, that is to say, educate their children. 


Passing from content to method we have to ask by what 
means the education of the Africans is effected. In brief we may 


say there are three ways : the formal, as when a boy is apprenticed 
to a trade, or when the traditional rules of conduct are impressed 
upon boys and girls during the initiation rites ; the informal, 
as when young people learn by imitation ; and the unconscious, 
as when children in their play unknowingly obey impulses which 
have a social end and which are stimulated by the actions of 
their seniors. Oral instruction is only one means, and it is not 
the most important. The young African learns chiefly through 
participation in the activities of the community. Boys and 
girls are introduced into a succession of ever-widening circles 
which overlap in some degree ; and as they enter one circle 
after another they acquire, partly by precept but chiefly by the 
example and pressure of their fellows, the standards of conduct, 
the emotional attitudes, and the knowledge appropriate to the 
stage which they have reached. Each circle brings an enhanced 
status, with corresponding duties and responsibilities. In this 
progressive manner they arrive ultimately at full member- 
ship of the tribe, emerging as socialized persons with knowledge 
of what is required of them and fitted to the emotional and 
active life that awaits them. Their character is formed through 
the relationships established in the various groups which together 
compose the well-knit African community. 

Some writers who recognize the existence of education among 
Africans appear to consider that it is confined to the puberty 
or initiation " schools ". These are indeed of very great 
importance, marking as they do the transition from juvenility 
to adulthood. Attention has been centred upon them in 
educational circles by the largely successful attempt by Bishop 
Lucas and other missionaries to adapt them to Christian uses 
a process of sublimation that might well be made more universal. 1 
Among certain tribes, we are told, no definite instruction is 
imparted during these rites. This is said, for example, of some 
Xosa-speaking peoples 2 ; it seems to be particularly true where 
circumcision has come to be the chief feature of the boys' 
initiation, though it is not so of the Basuto. It may be that 
the boys and girls are not taught a great deal that they do not 
know before they enter the " school " ; but it is the manner 
rather than the amount that is of importance. Mr. Hambly 
is right in saying that the tutors are revealed to be good 
psychologists. At this period of peculiar plasticity everything 
is done to heighten the temperature so that the youthful minds 
may receive an indelible impression. The seclusion in a camp 
of their own, the atmosphere of mystery that is thrown about 
it, the ritual, the special costumes, the terrifying monsters 

1 See Bishop Lucas's contribution to Essays Catholic and Missionary (1928), 
pp. 138 sqq. 

2 P. A. W. Cook, The Bomvana (1931), pp. 51 sqq. 


(represented by men) like the Selwana of the Bakhaha that 
are let loose among the initiates, the symbolical putting to death 
and resurrection, or second birth, as in the Nzo Longo and 
Kimpasi rites of some Congo tribes ; the rough treatment, the 
floggings, the tortures, the exposure to cold, the fatiguing dances, 
the abnormal sexual practices, the obscene songs all these 
things induce a state of nervous super-excitation. The stamp 
which the metal receives in this malleable condition remains 
for ever. The boys and girls emerge as new beings, the new names 
they bear being a witness and pledge thereof to the whole 

Important as this rite is in the African's life it must not be 
regarded as the sole occasion for educating him. Puberty or 
initiation rites are not universal in Africa, and the transmission 
of culture goes on where they are absent. Where they exist 
they do not stand alone but form one of a series of progressive 
rites de passage which introduce the African youth into the 
stages of his career. To understand how he is trained it is 
necessary to follow him through these stages. These are more 
strongly emphasized by some tribes than by others, but would 
appear to be universally recognized. 

The- most elaborate system is found among the Didinga, 
one of the Nilo-Hamitic tribes, who initiate the boys into 
successive stages at the ages of eight, thirteen, eighteen, and 
twenty-eight ; and Mr. Driberg tells us that there are degrees 
beyond that age. 1 At eight they are removed from their mothers' 
influence and formed into a group, the members being drawn from 
all the clans and are henceforth age-mates for life. At this 
earliest stage they are instructed in the use of the spear 
and in the treatment of spear-wounds ; they are taught the 
rudiments of cattle-husbandry, and the names, appearance, 
and uses of a number of plants ; manners and etiquette are 
inculcated, particularly the duty of subordination to the elders ; 
they learn something of ritual, tribal traditions, and religious 
belief. Dances are an important part of the training, not only 
by emphasizing and establishing the unity of the group, but 
also by their dramatic representation of animals and events. 
Rigorous discipline is enforced and the boys are hardened by 
exposure and exercise. After this primary initiation the boys 
live at home until the second stage is reached at the age of about 
thirteen. After taking part in training the group junior to 
themselves they enter the school and are taught largely by 
members of the group next in seniority, under the elders' 
guidance. The earlier instruction is carried a stage further, 
and new subjects are introduced : elements of agriculture and 
astronomy ; the technique and magic of hunting ; the meaning 

1 J. H. Driberg, At Home with the Savage (1932), pp. 232 sqq. 


of the rain and other ceremonies. In the third stage, bee- 
keeping, weather-lore, clan and tribal law are taught ; the 
regulation of sexual conduct is especially enforced ; and the use 
of arms is perfected. The young men now enter upon ten years 
of military service, at the close of which, and in preparation for 
their new status as married men, there is a fresh initiation : 
marital and parental obligations are insisted upon at this stage, 
and they are rigorously prepared for civic duty. 

Among the Bantu it is rare to find a continuous or even 
intermittent course of formal instruction that corresponds in 
any degree to our schools. An exception is offered by the 
Bavenda, of the Northern Transvaal, who have, or had, an 
indigenous school, named thondo, through which all young boys 
passed. It was, Mr. Stayt says, essentially a military institution 
for the purpose of training warriors. Boys entered when they 
were seven or eight years of age and left only at the first sign of 
pubescence to go through the tribal initiation rite of vhutamba 
vhutuka. During this period they were not wholly withdrawn 
from ordinary life ; they repaired to the school after completing 
the daily duty of herding. Our information about what took 
place is meagre ; we are not told what they were taught ; but 
it seems that severe discipline was the rule, that tribal etiquette 
and rules of politeness were enforced, and that certain tasks, 
such as mat-making, were set. 1 

The institutions described by Driberg and Stayt are for 
the purpose of formal instruction and discipline. We are not 
to imagine, however, that whether among Bavenda and Didinga 
or any other African peoples the beginnings of education are 
deferred to the age of eight. Educationists now recognize 
that the period of active habit formation from two to six is by 
far and away the most fateful in a human life. Unfortunately 
our information in regard to the African child at this age is 
extremely vague and meagre. Yet the main outlines may 
be discerned. 

Africans generally distinguish by name the various stages of 
human life. The Ila word mwana " child " is applied generically 
to all the young of both sexes up to the age of puberty. This 
period is subdivided. From birth to weaning the infant is in 
the state of bucheche and this is marked off into degrees. 
Busahana, say the Bathonga, is the child's condition while it 
and its mother are in seclusion : it ends after the first seven 
days of life in a ritual act by which the father acknowledges his 
paternity and formally receives his child into the biological 
family. Another ceremony at the end of three months removes 
certain taboos from the parents ; and when the child begins 
to crawl a further ceremony advances it to another degree 

1 H. A. Stayt, The Bavenda (1931), pp. 101 sqq. 


Junod says it thereby becomes a regular member of the com- 
munity : it is now an nkulu ft a grown-up " and no longer khuna 
" an incomplete thing ". l Weaning marks a definite step 
forward ; in some tribes a religious act of prayer and sacrifice 
brings the child definitely into relation with the unseen kin ; 
and it may also bring it into touch with the larger family when it 
goes to live with its grandparents. Entrance into later child- 
hood, which at about the age of eight is marked physiologically 
by the cutting of the second teeth, is not always through a 
rite de passage, but in many tribes the boys, and perhaps the 
girls, leave the parental roof and sleep in dormitory huts set 
aside for them separately. 

Each stage of growth is attended by an enlarged experience 
as the child is introduced into a wider circle. In its earliest 
years it is in constant touch with mother and father, and probably 
brothers and sisters older and younger than itself. This is the 
biological group, the family, of supreme importance in African 
society. For the child in its earliest stage the mother is the most 
important member. She provides its nourishment, watches 
over it with solicitude, by her croonings and lullabies evokes 
its powers of speech. The earliest and most enduring sentiment 
is formed in regard to her : " You may have many wives/ 1 the 
Baila say to a bridegroom, " remember always you can have only 
one mother/' In some of her maternal functions she is assisted 
by her daughters, if she has any : elder sisters early come to 
act as nurses. The father plays his part in the care and training 
of the child ; but probably his influence becomes potent only 
when the child walks and talks. His duties, though perhaps 
not his responsibilities, are hardly affected by the rules of descent. 
In so-called patrilineal tribes he is, of course, paramount. In 
so-called matrilineal tribes, where (as among the Ashanti) the 
child belongs legally to the mother's clan and his right is 
distinctly inferior to that of the maternal uncle, the father's 
position is strengthened by the fact that his children inherit 
the ntoro spirit through him and it might resent high-handed 
actions on the part of the abusua who share with the children 
in the mother's blood : they are held in awe of the father's 
spirit. His legal power may be weak, yet he is strongly attached 
to his children by natural affection, and the bringing-up of the 
boys falls to him, the uncle having little to say during the early 
years. If the father orders his child to do one thing and the 
mother another, the father gets his own way. Rattray gives 
a list of some of the first lessons taught to an Ashanti child in 
olden time, apparently by the father : to use the right hand for 
eating and gesticulation, the left for toilet purposes, and both 
in receiving a gift ; not to stare in any person's face unless he 

1 H. Junod, Life of a South African Tribe (second edition, 1927), i, 57. 


is actually addressing one ; to say ago on entering anyone's 
house and not to enter until the reply ame has been given ; 
and so on. " Even in the nursery/' he says, " the Ashanti 
child is trained to avoid those pitfalls which in later life con- 
stitute his chief danger of coming within the arm of the law, i.e. 
he has been admonished to avoid sexual offences ; to be careful 
to guard his tongue ; to respect other people's property ; he 
is also at an early age instructed in the matter of taboos." l 

It is probable that all African children are taught this kind 
of behaviour by their parents. But the quick African child 
learns more by using ears and eyes in observation of what goes 
on around him. He sees how father and mother, elder brothers 
and sisters behave towards each other ; and through their 
manifest approval or disapproval comes to know how he is 
expected to behave towards them. Ridicule, that most powerful 
of sanctions, is early brought to bear upon him. The importance 
of meals has been pointed out by Dr. Richards : it is largely 
by training in the manners of the " table " that the African child 
gets his sense of the status and functions of his different kinsmen. 2 
African children are not treated roughly : leniency rather than 
harshness is the rule ; with their belief in reincarnation the 
parents live in dread that the young child may at any time make 
up its mind to return whence it came. The drastic punishment 
for pilfering by the use of red peppers, mentioned by Rattray, 
is quite exceptional. Yet we have seen a very small boy soundly 
thrashed by his mother for telling her a lie. In one way or 
another, the child acquires the proper attitudes towards those 
who are in a position of authority over him ; and this is the 
most important thing he learns, for upon these patterns he will 
base his behaviour to others when he leaves the family group 
for a larger circle. The respect he has learnt for his mother's 
and sister's sex will be extended to all those women whom he 
comes to address as " my mother " or regard as " our sister ". 
The incest taboo is implanted in him for life. The reverence 
for his father will in due course be extended to his uncles and to 
the elders and chiefs of the tribe. One of the chief things he 
learns is how to address the persons he meets, those related to 
him by blood or marriage, and those not so related. He learns 

1 R. S. Rattray, Ashanti Law and Constitution (1929), pp. 13. 14. 

Since writing this paper I have read Bruno Gutmann's Die Stammeslehren 
der Dschagga (1932), in which the instruction of the Chaga children is exhaustively 

2 Audrey I. Richards, Hunger and Work in a Savage Tribe (1932), p. 68. 
Kinship usages are well appreciated even by a child of six or seven years. "He 
becomes early acquainted with the grouping of the family at mealtimes, and 
the rules governing the ownership and distribution of cooked food. It is by 
lessons such as these that the whole kinship structure is felt rather than explained. 
Family sentiment is imprinted by a series of daily habits rather than taught 
by any definite lesson or rule," p. 66. 


this not from a table of kinship, such as figures in ethnographical 
treatises, but by instruction, direct or indirect. If he hears his 
father address a person as " my child " he will know that he 
should speak to him, and of him, as " my brother ", and treat 
him accordingly. 

How or when young Africans learn the many taboos to which 
they are subject is obscure. The forbidden foods of childhood, 
such as fat, eggs, and certain fish, are certainly withheld from the 
beginning ; the child thus becomes familiar from a very early 
age with the fact that certain things are simply not done because 
of the inevitable disaster that would follow the doing. 

The family group continues to govern the African's conduct 
long after he has ceased to be a child ; but when he can walk 
and talk he is brought into association with other groups which 
influence him. There would seem not to be in Africa that 
severe dichotomy between juvenile and adult life which, according 
to Margaret Mead's description, obtains in New Guinea where 
the children spend their formative years " in a good-natured 
vacuum ". l But undoubtedly the young folk have a world 
of their own into which they enter joyfully whenever they can 
escape from the tasks imposed upon them by their elders : a 
world in. which distinctions of age and rank are recognized, and 
in which strong character early shows itself in leadership. The 
youthful playmates of the Thonga chief are taught to respect 
him ; he is surrounded in his games by a miniature court, from 
which he chooses his favourites ; some of his companions act 
as councillors and reprimand those who fail to treat him with 
due respect. 2 They play at court. In this and other respects 
the young show themselves interested in the life of their elders 
and imitate it. They have an infinitude of games which they 
play with zest and in which the serious pursuits of adults figure 
largely. Tiny toddlers will be seen prodding gleefully with stems 
of stout grass into the ground where a sweet potato is hidden 
their first lesson in the use of the spear. Larger boys fight 
fierce battles with longer stems of thick grass as spears, practising 
all the casts and parryings, feints, charges and retreats used 
by the warriors of the tribe. Girls play with " dolls " and early 
begin to fashion pots and baskets. Thus by imitation the 
energies of youth are canalized in the direction of adult activities. 
This is seen particularly in the small villages of miniature huts 
(amashanshi, the Lamba call them) erected by the children of 
some tribes. The girls may play the game by themselves, 
choosing a " headman ", pairing off as " husband " and " wife ", 
grinding corn, cooking, all according to the habits and rules 

1 Growing up in New Guinea, p. 107. " Manus children live in a world of 
their own, a world from which adults are wilfully excluded." 
* Junod, op. tit., i, 369. 


of their elders. Or the boys and girls may live together during 
the day in the toy-village as husbands and wives, even to the 
point of going to bed in the huts. 

Boys and girls are introduced early into the economic life 
of the community. This is a valid part of their education. 
Children of both sexes at the age of five or six are set to herd 
goats or small calves in the vicinity of the village. They have 
plenty of time for playing together, for the task requires only 
casual attention. At about ten the boy may be promoted to 
accompany the cattle herds, and at certain seasons this may 
involve absence from home for several months. He learns to 
manage the beasts, the good and noxious grasses, the diseases, 
how to milk, and so on. Africans never work so hard as during 
their later childhood when they are under the dominance of 
boys older than themselves ; and from these petty tyrants they 
acquire a great deal of miscellaneous knowledge. They come to 
have a minute and extensive acquaintance with the names and 
habits of animals and insects, with the names and uses of plants 
and trees. Anyone who has collected with the assistance of 
young Africans will testify to this fact. The accuracy with 
which they learn to count (in tens) is also noteworthy : they 
begin early, by being taught little ditties, to know numbers ; 
where cowries were in use there were names up to a million. 1 
In the village the boys begin early to take part in the building of 
the huts. 

Girls are brought at a tender age to share in the occupations 
of their mothers and sisters. Almost as scon as she can walk 
the girl begins to carry a little receptacle by balancing it upon 
her head, and very soon she will come back with her mother from 
the river or water-hole bearing her little water-pot in this manner : 
it induces to strong muscles and an upright carriage. She learns 
by her mother's example all there is in the production and 
preparation of food after the native manner : long before the 
time she is married she is expected to be proficient in these arts. 

So both boys and girls are brought into close association 
with their elders and mould their lives unconsciously or 
consciously after their pattern. Where the father is skilled 
as an iron-worker, wood-carver, or in other trades, he may 
teach his son deliberately. Some tribes have a system of 
apprenticeship, with a course of two or more years of training 
and the payment of fees. In other instances the boys watch 
the skilled workman there is always a group of interested 
youngsters around the forge and some will begin to do little 
jobs for him and gradually pick up his skill. Among the riverine 
peoples, boys are taught to handle canoes and paddle with agility, 
gracefulness, and accuracy. The Congo father will give his 

1 J. Roscoe, The Baganda (1911), p. 41. 


son a toy paddle and teach him to backwater, to steer, to move 
his paddle in unison with others. Very soon the boy will be 
familiar with fifty phrases regarding the craft. He is also taught 
to make fish-traps and nets, the best places to put them, and how 
to bait and cast a hook. Lads of fourteen and fifteen know the 
names of innumerable fish in the rivers and creeks, their habits 
and the best way of catching them. 1 Boys are also initiated 
early into the art of hunting : to track various animals according 
to their habits ; the spears to use for various purposes ; the 
ways of cutting up ; and all the magical and religious practices 
peculiar to the hunter. 2 When a lion has been mortally wounded 
near a village small boys are brought near and made to spear 
it before life is extinct. Thus they are brought up to face the 
fiercest beasts without fear. 

The remainder of this paper will be devoted to what might 
pardonably be called the literary education of Africans : that 
is to say, to the educational function of folk-tales. Did space 
permit I might deal in the same way with the proverbs, in which 
much of the traditional wisdom is expressed and conveyed, and 
with the riddles which serve an educational purpose in stimulating 
the wits of the young. 

In recent years the educative value of story-telling has come 
to be recognized by teachers. Tales are seen to be the natural 
forms for revealing life, the natural carrier of racial tradition, 
of information and ideals. They are declared to have two 
functions : they are an illuminator of facts, and they are a 
moulder of ideals. What is now appreciated by modern 
educationists has always been realized by Africans. They 
teach very largely by telling stories. 

Experts in child psychology say that each period of the 
young person's life demands a particular set of tales. From 
three to six the child dwells in a realm of realism, is interested 
in familiar things ; stories like that of Mother Hubbard and her 
unfortunate dog, stories that contain much repetition and 
introduce the cries and calls of animals are appropriate to this 
period. From six to eight the child passes through a stage 
when the imagination is very active and he craves fanciful 
tales that picture a larger experience than he has attained to. 
Then he emerges into another realm of realism, when barbaric 
instincts manifest themselves, and he looks for true tales of 
heroic deeds. And from twelve or thirteen onwards he wants 

1 J. H. Weeks, Among Congo Cannibals (1913), pp. 143-5. 

2 This must be modified in regard to tribes where hunters form a guild to 
which young men are admitted by initiation. 


stories of a higher type of heroism, stories of chivalry and romance. 
Africans tell tales that fall into all these categories ; but whether 
the African child passes through the same psychological stages 
in this respect as our children, and whether the tales are graded 
accordingly I, in common with other collectors of these tales, 
have neglected to inquire. There is here an interesting and 
profitable field for study. 

The tales are, first, an illuminator of facts about the mother 
tongue. We know very little about the process by which 
African children learn their complicated and beautiful language ; 
but we do know that they rapidly learn to talk it with fluency 
and accuracy. Of the Mpangu child Father Van Wing says : 
" A quatre ans il parle mieux sa belle langue Kikongo qu'un 
Europeen de douze ans ne parle la sienne." l So far as my 
experience goes it is very rarely that a grammatical solecism 
can be detected in the everyday speech of adult Africans. 
They have no books of grammar ; there is no formal 
instruction in language. It appears that they learn by the 
natural method of listening and imitating ; and I am confident 
that the tales told around the fire in the evening play an essential 
part in the process. Like our own children, African small folk 
do not object to the repetition of a story ; indeed, they call often 
for their favourites ; but they like it retold in the same words ; 
little Tories as they are, they dislike revolutionary changes. 
Forms of expression are heard over and over again until they 
become thoroughly familiar. When one has collected a large 
number of tales told in the hearing of the young, one ceases to 
wonder at the very extensive vocabulary that Africans grow into 
possessing. Many of the words occurring in the tales are 
but rarely used in everyday conversation ; but the context 
gives the meaning, and once they are ingrained upon the young 
person's mind they are there for use when occasion arises. The 
same applies to grammatical forms : all the tribal usages in 
speech are conveyed to the young through tales. 

Some of the stories are told to draw attention to particular 
modes of expression and to ridicule people who make mistakes 
in regard to them. " Take care of your nasals ! " is very 
necessary advice to anyone who studies a Bantu language. 
Instead of formulating a rule about it, or merely uttering a 
precept, the Baila tell a tale to impress it upon the memory. 
Certain travellers, they say, were hospitably received in a village 
and were told by their hosts : " When you have eaten this dish 
mukandile," i.e. " you shall eat with milk." As soon as they had 
finished their dish the travellers arose, took their spears, and 
began to charge up and down as if they were at a funeral. The 
astonished villagers asked : " Who is dead ? Whom are you 
1 R. P. Van Wing, titudes Bakongo (1921), p. 262. 


mourning for ? " And the visitors replied : " We are mourning 
because you said, ' When you have eaten this dish mukadile,' " 
i.e. " you shall weep ". "No," said their hosts, "we said 
mukandile, not mukadile.' 1 Mind your nasals ! Similarly tales 
are told to impress the necessity of correct intonation of words 
and phrases. 

Tales also convey to the new generation much of what their 
forbears learnt (or think they learnt) about the world around 
them. A large proportion of them is made up of what Rudyard 
Kipling called "Just-so stories" ; in more erudite language, 
etiological myths. They explain how things came to be what 
they are. That they are abreast with modern science, nobody 
would pretend ; but they convey in the most fascinating manner 
the elders' observation and reflection upon the facts of their 
experience. Such a tale as the Ashanti tell to explain why the 
spider has a bald head and there are hundreds with the same 
motif may not be zoologically exact, but at least it draws the 
children's attention to natural facts and helps to make the 
animal world interesting. 

The great facts of human existence and the origin of things 
are also illuminated by stories. How did death come into the 
world ? , how did divorce, murder, incest originate ? How 
did the practice of taking a friend a great thing in the African's 
experience arise ? What is the genesis of heaven and earth, 
the sun, moon, and stars, and of man himself ? I agree with 
Mr. Cardinall x that the stories told in response to such 
questionings are not mere fairy tales or imaginative yarns to 
the African, but are absolutely real. They form the back- 
ground of his thought about the universe. I think that of many 
of them it can be said they possess real religious value. Some are 
told openly on any occasion ; others are the sacred and guarded 
possession of a few selected elders of a tribe and constitute what 
Rattray calls " the African's Old Testament ". 2 But they all 
go to forming the young people's attitude towards their environ- 
ment and are therefore educative. 

It is not too much to say of many African stories that they 
are moulders of ideals. Moral instruction is conveyed in precept, 
in maxims or proverbs ; but a still more sure way of instilling 
social rules into the mind of the rising generation, and of holding 
before them ideals of conduct, is to embody them in tales which 
are at once interesting and rememberable. " When some 
member of your family accidentally spoils or loses something 
belonging to you, do not claim or accept compensation " ; 
" When anyone at all is engaged on any work and he asks 
for help, help him " ; tales which drive home such excellent 

1 A. W. Cardinall, Tales Told in Togoland (1931), p. 9. 
8 R. S. Rattray, Akan-Ashanti Folk-tales (1930), p. xiii. 


instruction are found in Rattray's collection, and others 
might easily be enumerated. The moral is not always explicitly 
stated. Africans are very much like the little English girl who 
said : " I like the preacher's stories, but I don't like his morals ! " 
A wise story-teller does not force his lesson upon his listeners : 
he tells his tale, and lets it work. To point the moral may excite 
resentment : as if people were not intelligent enough to see what 
the story means ! Africans show wisdom in this matter ; the 
tales are often didactic in intention, but the teaching is not 
obtruded. A multitude of stories suggest, without being 
offensively explicit, that hasty judgment is likely to be false, 
that the weak should not be treated with contempt, that you 
cannot transgress with impunity. 

The popular animal stories which are told primarily for 
entertainment often seem to commend the anti-social vices 
of double-dealing, falsehood, and deceit. That merry person, 
Mr. Hare, is the embodiment of cunning ; we ought to ostracize 
him, but we do not ; he is so variously and infinitely droll that 
we cannot but join in the African's enjoyment as we listen to 
his wonderful adventures. The stories of Mr. Hare and the other 
animals, if they are not of the highest moral tone, at least 
demonstrate that brain is more than brawn : it is always wit 
that vanquishes brute strength. The lesson may have its 
dangers ; but there is a salutary side to it. Besides this, the 
human qualities which the African detests supremely are some- 
times associated in these tales with the most loathsome animals : 
greediness with the hyena, for example. The child links the 
two together to the reinforcement of its parents' precepts. 

From the obscurities that for us still hang about African 
cnildhood, the fact emerges that Africans do educate their 
children. It is a genuine education. To our minds its limitations 
may be obvious enough, but these should not blind us to its value. 
What the African sets out to do, namely, to prepare the new 
generation to take its place in the community and carry on the 
tribal tradition, he accomplishes with a very considerable 
measure of success. If it be objected that the education given 
is conservative and not creative, it may be readily admitted 
that it is designedly conservative, but African society is not 
static ; there is movement in it, and change, whether produced 
by external stimulus or by spontaneous variation within, and 
these modifications or improvements, when they meet with 
general approval, are equally with the more remote tradition 
handed on in the manner we have described. 


What Mr. Bryant has said of the Zulus may be said of some 
other African tribes : " Through the ages this admirable system 
of forming character and imparting knowledge continued, until 
at length was evolved a Zulu race noble of heart, dignified of 
bearing, refined of manners, and learned in natural science 
qualities, alas ! rapidly dying out before the destructive and 
demoralizing advance of European civilization." x The con- 
cluding sentence applies to many a tribe. No small part of the 
demoralization is caused by the disturbance of the family through 
the prolonged absence of the senior males at work on European 
mines and plantations and through the flocking of boys to 
European towns ; it is in the family life, as we have seen, that 
the most vital discipline and instruction are given. It becomes 
a problem of urgent importance, how, while introducing the 
European system of schools, to conserve the very real values of the 
indigenous African system. The problem awaits solution. 

1 A. T. Bryant, Olden Times in Zululand and Natal (1929), pp. 77, 78. 


By L. K. TAG 

It has been the usual practice of writers on China to take as 
representing the national character certain qualities of its people 
which they discovered either through personal contact or in books. 
Thus the Chinese have been variously described as faithful and 
untrustworthy, docile and restive, cruel and humane. While 
many of these characterizations, no matter whether they be 
merely personal whims, fleeting impressions, or deep convictions, 
are doubtless interesting and suggestive, and may perhaps be 
considered valid in a limited way, yet it is certainly erroneous 
to accept them as depicting the Chinese national character, 
something that is inherent in the race. The number of 
publications on racial or national psychology notwithstanding, 
it appears that they are in most cases merely facile generalizations 
without any scientific basis. 

The character of the Chinese people, it seems, must be studied 
in their social institutions. If it is admitted that various peoples 
are more or less the same in their natural endowment, the 
differences of their national character must then be accounted 
for by the divergence of their cultural traditions and social 
environment. What one finds as the character of a race or a 
nation is but a product of its tradition and social environment 
as they act upon human nature. There would be no mystery in 
any national character if we could analyse and understand the 
social conditions under which the people live. To affirm that 
there are mental or moral traits that are innate and ineradic- 
able among the people of a nation shows only our ignorance of 
their nature and our incompetence to analyse the particular 
conditions under which they grow and develop. 

There is no doubt that the forces affecting and contributing 
to the making of personal character must be very complex. For 
instance, education, occupation, sports, government, church, 
and other social institutions are all influential forces in 
moulding character, stimulating it in one way and retarding it 
in another. An accurate and exact estimation of the influence 
of each force is of course most difficult, if not impossible. Yet 
it seems reasonable for us to say that certain forces are dominant 
in moulding certain aspects of character or mentality. 

Now, in a study of the character of the Chinese, our attention 


336 L. K. TAG 

must be drawn to their family system, which is of all their 
institutions the most powerful and important. The family 
not only forms the basic unit of Chinese society, the whole nation 
being a collection of families, but also supplies an important 
principle for the organization of many other associations, such 
as the store, the workshop, the school. It may be assumed that 
practically all Chinese are born and bred in families and their 
life continues in family groups. Under such circumstances the 
influence of family life on individuals must be very great ; it 
tends to determine the behaviour patterns and moral ideas of 
the young, when their minds are plastic, and it further supports 
and reinforces the persistence of these patterns and ideas once 
they are set. This, it should be noted, is not to deny the influence 
of other institutions on the life of individuals, or to attempt 
to make family life entirely independent of them. What is 
contended here is that family life either directly or indirectly 
must have a predominant influence in moulding the moral and 
mental characters of the Chinese. Hence it would seem 
necessary to examine certain aspects of Chinese national character 
in the light of their family system. 

Before proceeding, it would be well to define properly 
the term " Chinese family.'' First of all, the family must not 
be confused with the sib, though the latter has been and still is in 
existence feebly and in a very limited way in China. The sib, 
as is well known, is an association of persons bearing the same 
surname, including those female members married into it, and 
worshipping the same ancestors. Its distinctive features are 
that its members do not as a rule live in one house, and that 
they have no common economy except some form of property 
for ancestral worship and education of the young. In view of the 
fact that the sib organization is not universal and that it is hardly 
influential even where it persists, too much importance must not be 
attached to it. The forces that tend to undermine its existence or 
its power may perhaps be mentioned. In the first place, an excess 
of deaths over births in a sib, through natural or social causes, 
would of course reduce its membership. Secondly, migrations or 
the dispersal of its members also make for its decay. Thirdly, 
impoverishment through various causes would either weaken 
its solidarity or reduce its size. In short, the sib organization 
appears to be constantly subjected to a variety of factors which 
tend to diminish its membership and weaken its structure. There 
is no doubt that the family organization would be similarly 
affected if these factors were at work. But it seems reasonable 
to maintain that the sib organization must suffer much more 
easily from untoward influences, since the sentiment of kinship 
on which it is based cannot extend very far, and the lack of a 
common economic organization deprives it of one of the important 


factors of solidarity. On the other hand, it is comparatively 
much easier for the family to retain its solidarity and cohesiveness, 
since it has not only important common interests, but also those 
of the members of the nearest kin. 

Thus, the sib organization is confined only to certain parts 
of China where natural and social conditions are favourable, 
or to certain classes, such as the propertied and the gentry, 
whose economic status enables them to afford the luxury of 
propping up kinship relationships even of a remote kind, and 
whose conception of conventional morality is gratified by 
doing thus. 

So much for the sib. The family in which almost all Chinese 
pass their lives must vary in individual cases, but considering 
its broad features alone, it may be either of two types : the 
small family of parents and their children as one finds in the 
West, and the joint-family which consists of the members of more 
than two generations, including wives married to its members. 
The former is comparatively rare, unless the family membership 
is reduced to that extent, while the latter appears to be 
the prevailing type. Among the latter, a family of four 
generations may comprise only eight members, that is, 
the great-grandfather and the great-grandmother, the grand- 
father and the grandmother, the father and the mother, and the 
son and the daughter-in-law, but its membership may grow to 
twenty, thirty, forty, or even more, if each generation has a 
number of brothers with their wives, and sisters who are 
unmarried. On the whole it may be said that the family of three 
generations is quite common in this country while that of 
more than five generations is comparatively rare. 

It may be observed here that the Chinese family is an 
economic unit for consumption and very often, as in farming 
and handicraftsmen families, also for production purposes. 
All members work for the whole family and their material and 
other wants are supplied from the estate, treasury, or income of 
the family, administered by the paternal head. No member, 
therefore, is allowed to amass any fortune for his own benefit. 
Thus a Chinese moral tenet enjoins, " When parents are living, 
their offspring dare not keep any wealth in secret/' In a well- 
ordered family this tenet is no doubt carried out to its full extent, 
each member either having no private income or, if he has, giving 
it up to the paternal head for family expenditure. It is in this 
respect that the Chinese family is sometimes considered as 
communistic in character. 

One of the important features in the Chinese family that must 
first attract our attention is that it comprises a great number of 
persons. The very facts of overcrowding and the intimate 
contact of so many members in one house must have important 

338 L. K. TAG 

effects on the members. Although there are, under such 
circumstances of conglomeration, traditional codes and 
observances according to which individual behaviour must be 
adjusted, yet there are bound to be friction, misunderstanding, 
maladjustment, and incompatibility of temperament among 
the members. At any rate, it must be admitted that the 
problem of living together, which is entirely bound up with 
sentiments of kinship, is a difficult one even for members of the 
near kin. In the Chinese family this is solved by mutual forbear- 
ance, each member trying to put up with whatever comes. 
Forbearance, it appears, has become a cardinal virtue owing 
to which family life in China has been made possible. Thus 
Chinese moralists of various ages have unanimously extolled 
forbearance as the key to preserve perpetual peace in family 
life. Amongst others, the virtue of forbearance has been well 
analysed in a treatise on family codes by Ssu Ma Kwang, a 
distinguished historian and official in the eleventh century, 
as follows : 

" Forbearance is sometimes construed as nursing resentment 
in our heart. I can keep my resentment in the heart when I am 
offended only for once or twice, but it will burst out uncontrollably 
like a torrent if it is accumulated for some length of time. 
Preferably any resentment will be explained and cleared from our 
heart, by taking every offence as due to unthoughtfulness, 
ignorance, mistake and narrow vision, and considering it as 
harmless. One will not show it on his face, even if the offence 
is repeated more than ten times. Then the important con- 
sequences of forbearance will be manifest. This is forbearance 
at its best/' 

This interpretation of forbearance, it seems, is in no way 
different from the well-known maxim, " Tout comprendre, 
c'est tout pardonner." The following story is often quoted as 
illustrating the importance of forbearance in Chinese family 
life. Chang Rung Yih, a native of Shantung in the seventh 
century, was living with nine generations in one house. When 
asked by the Emperor, who visited him in A.D. 666 on his way to 
Taishan, as to the secret of his keeping so many members together 
in one house, Chang wrote the ideograph of forbearance one 
hundred times as a reply. While Chang's family is no doubt 
extraordinary in having so many as members of nine 
generations, who must amount to well-nigh a hundred and form 
a sib rather than a family, the moral of the story clearly shows 
how necessary and also how successful is the practice of forbear- 
ance in maintaining a big family organization. 

That forbearance should form a cardinal virtue that is required 
of members living in families is evident. While there are 
traditional codes determining the reciprocal relationships between 


members of the elder and the younger generations, such as 
the father and the son, or the aunt and the niece, the 
reciprocal relationship between the members of the same 
generation, such as brothers and cousins, is somewhat 
loose and difficult to determine. It must be borne in mind that 
the pivotal relationship in a Chinese family is that between 
parents and their children, while other kinship relationships 
may be said to be dependent upon or projected from it. Now 
if a father has three sons, each son with his own children 
would form three distinct lines or branches of descendants 
in the family ; in other words, its members seem to cluster 
on three different lines by lineal descent. As the parent-child 
relationship is pivotal in a family, filial piety towards the 
parents therefore plays a dominant and all-important role in 
Chinese family life, and consequently the deference paid by the 
young to the aged and the elderly is merely an extension or 
projection of filial piety towards those who are of the same age 
or of the same kinship status as the parents. Thus, while 
relationships between members of different kinship status, 
whether they be lineal or collateral, may be easily adjusted as 
a projection of the parent-child relationship, those between 
members of the same kinship status would lack any such-like 
strict and definite regard for each other. Hence the necessity 
and importance of forbearance in adjusting the relationship 
between members of the same kinship status. 

Forbearance is no doubt a fine virtue in Chinese family life, 
if it is a conscious effort as a result of complete understanding 
and enlightened trust of fellow-creatures. Yet there can be no 
doubt whatsoever that forbearance is not always desirable, for 
as has been pointed out by Burke, there is " a limit at which 
forbearance ceases to be a virtue". What is worse is that it 
may easily degenerate into an unhealthy mental attitude, such as 
resignation or passive submission to what is simply intolerable. 

In this connection one may perhaps be allowed to speculate 
whether or not filial piety, which is always required of every one 
towards one's parents, and forbearance, which is always required 
towards each other in regard to all kinds of behaviour, make the 
whole atmosphere of the family life excessively oppressive ; 
whether or not in this atmosphere of oppression the Chinese, at 
least those who are of a timid nature, have during the ages acquired 
a great capacity to endure, to resign themselves to what comes ? 
It would also be interesting for us to inquire whether or not this 
oppression of family life is also the main cause of the backward- 
ness of the Chinese in trying to understand and control their natural 
environment. In short, is it possible that the family arrangement 
of the Chinese, together with its accompanying patterns of thought 
and behaviour which they should follow, have made them the 

340 L. K. TAO 

most docile of races, conformist in nature, lacking even a spark 
of revolutionary spirit, and totally disinclined or unable to 
kick against what is untoward in nature and man ? These are 
all questions of very great interest and an elucidation of them 
would no doubt help us to understand more clearly the nature 
of the history of the Chinese people. 

From another point of view, forbearance means a repression, 
if not annihilation, of personality or individuality and, con- 
sequently, that the Chinese family is possible is due mainly, if 
not entirely, to a repression of personality. Every member 
of the family is required to fall in with his or her status in 
relation to other members, and acts according to conventional 
family injunctions regarding definite rights and duties. It is 
not for a person to doubt and inquire why certain duties are 
enjoined. He is not to ask why, but to observe what is pre- 
scribed by convention. Thus instead of the constitutional 
convention cl The King can do no wrong," as has been adopted 
in some countries, the Chinese take for granted that " Parents 
can do no wrong/' (Literally the maxim is that " There cannot 
be in the world any parent that is in the wrong/') 

The repression of personality deprives the Chinese of the 
opportunity of developing such traits as self-expression, 
originality, creativeness, an adventurous spirit of exploration 
and pioneering, inventiveness, etc. Hampered in develop- 
ment, the mentality and behaviour of the Chinese are 
greatly stereotyped and trammelled, and whatever is new and 
departs from the stereotyped pattern of thought and action is 
therefore tabooed. As a consequence, their views of life, their social, 
political, and economic systems, and their material conditions 
in short their whole culture have not throughout the ages 
undergone such fundamental innovations as have been found 
in European civilizations. Now, one may perhaps ask, If the 
stereotyping of the mind and action of the Chinese, as a result 
of their family system, has denied to them social and cultural 
development, has it not gained for them in compensation a 
degree of stability and conservation that few peoples enjoy ? 

Another aspect that is noteworthy in Chinese family life is 
that it encourages or is at least indifferent about the dependence 
of its members. As the head of the family is responsible for the 
well-being of the whole family, an unnecessarily large share 
of the burden is put on him while all the other members will 
do as much as they cannot avoid doing, but no more. The 
lazy, the indolent, the ne'er-do-well, have good conditions 
for survival under Chinese family conditions. It is perhaps no 
exaggeration to say that Chinese family life cultivates laziness. 

It is true that all the members of a family ought to take part 
in the economic provision for the whole family. Every member 


must have his or her part to play under the high authority of the 
head of the family. Yet it must be remembered that unless 
the organization is strong and the paternal head exercises his 
power over all impartially, some members may try to shirk their 
responsibility, in order to escape the hard toil that is required of 
them. If the family is engaged in pursuits other than farming, 
then to earn a living must depend on the one hand on one's 
ability to work, and on the other hand on conditions of employ- 
ment. When neither of the two conditions obtains, it is futile 
to make any member work. And it is interesting to note that 
the paternal head is liable to be partial to his children ; he is 
usually inclined to protect the incompetent, the lazy, the weak, 
who must be taken care of by the members that are able. If it 
happens that all are incompetent to earn any living, it then 
remains for the paternal head to make every effort to support 
the whole family and his lot will be a very strenuous one. 
He it is that should be responsible for the sustenance and liveli- 
hood of all the family, and he can in no way escape the burden 
except by death. Thus while it sounds very well in theory that 
the Chinese family is a communistic organization of the people 
of the same kin, there are plenty of cases in which an extremely 
unequal distribution of labour among the members is evidenced. 
It is always the paternal head or some such competent member of 
the family that is made the beast of burden to feed and clothe the 
whole family. It is likely that in every society there must be a 
number of the indolent and the weak whose living and welfare 
will have to be taken care of by their fellow- creatures, and that 
the difference between Chinese and European systems is that 
in the former they are kept in the family and supported by 
members of the same kin, while in the latter they are thrown out 
on the streets and are maintained by public or social agencies. 
It seems that there is not much to choose between the two. 
Nevertheless, one is inclined to believe that the Chinese system 
is the more harmful, for under it not only is the indolent not 
stigmatized, but his irresponsibility and dependency is often 
taken as a matter of course ; thus, the unproductive member 
takes his daily allowances free from his kin simply as a right and 
feels no shame about it. But a family comprising unemployable 
or unproductive members is constantly in danger of breaking up 
on the disability or death of its bread-winner. And it seems that 
the strong economic pressure that is being felt everywhere in 
China must lead further to the total disruption of all joint- 

A third aspect of Chinese family life is that it hinders the 
development of the capacity for organization among its members. 
The kinship principle on which family organization is based is 
a strongly discriminating principle, stressing blood-relationship 

342 L. K. TAG 

on the one hand and kinship status or generations on the other. 
While blood-relationship discrimination must have softened 
somewhat in the course of ages, in view of the development of 
political and other organizations in China, yet it appears that 
owing to the dominance of the family system, the kinship 
sentiment and kinship loyalty still remain to claim the most 
important consideration in one's thought and action. Since 
the life of every Chinese is circumscribed in the narrow limits of 
the family and his upbringing is deeply stamped by the family 
hall-mark, it is evident that his outlook and interests throughout 
life would manifest a strong family-centred egoism. 

It should be pointed out that the Chinese respect for age is 
not so much for age itself as for the status of kinship of which 
age is often a symbol. For instance, a person in a lower status, 
such as the son, the daughter, the nephew, the niece, or the 
daughter-in-law, has to pay due respect to one in a higher 
status, such as the father, the mother, the uncle, the aunt, etc. 
Thus, persons belonging to the same status form one generation, 
to whom persons belonging to a lower status would pay due 
respect, and from whom persons of a higher status may exact due 
reverence. It is important to point out that this status principle 
is not' limited to the family and relatives alone, but is 
extended to many other relationships. For instance, friends of 
one's father are called " uncles/' and those of the same kinship 
status as one's mother, " aunts." In schools the teacher occupies 
the same status as the father, while the teacher of one's teacher 
is accorded the reverence similar to that given to one's grand- 
father. Even among those who have passed government 
examinations, successful candidates of earlier years are considered 
as belonging to former generations, to whom reverence is shown 
by later arrivals. In short, the whole conception of kinship 
status is shot through all human relationships in China, and 
applied universally. 

It is evident that the kinship principle and, more particularly, 
the status principle are incompatible with any effective organization 
of free individuals for other than kinship purposes. As soon 
as a few persons get together, kinship relationships are established 
and a hierarchy consisting of various statuses formed. It is 
extremely difficult, if not impossible, for them to stand on an 
equal footing and exchange ideas and act freely as equals, 
Here again, as in the observance of the virtue of forbearance, 
full expression of one's individuality is seriously hampered and 
any development of effective organization is checked. Under 
such circumstances, none is regarded as an active agent, but each 
forms only a part in the whole of the family or kinship structure. 
Thus, the value of the individual is entirely lost, as each is 
regarded only as in some kinship relationship with somebody 


else and his position is not determined by what he is but by what 
kinship status he has. A junior occupying a lower kinship 
status is therefore required only to follow his elders ; but his 
turn of becoming a leader will arrive in course of time. Personal 
intrinsic merit will have slight effect when kinship considerations 

Lastly, it is possible that the family organization whose 
solidarity is maintained by artificial and forced circumstances 
has an undesirable influence on the character of its members. In 
its ideal the family represents an harmonious organization in 
which each has a part to play and in which the welfare of each 
is cared for. The harmony, as may be gathered from the above, 
is maintained by the authority of the head of the family, and the 
sentiment of kinship and forbearance on the part of every member. 
It is based on the alleged community and unity of interests of the 
kin, which transcend those of every individual member. Yet in 
spite of the various forces that attempt to foster family solidarity 
and harmony, it is evidently impossible to expect complete 
harmony among a great number of persons grouped together on 
the basis of kinship considerations alone. Age and sex, occupa- 
tion and association all tend more or less but inevitably to 
disrupt family harmony by creating sectional interests. What 
appears outwardly as unified family life may therefore be, 
inwardly, no other than a constant ferment of discontent and 
factional dissensions. If the paternal head is an upright 
character, blameless in conduct and strong in his rule over all 
the members, family solidarity may perhaps be maintained. 
But as soon as such a power is withdrawn, personal bickerings 
may develop into open quarrels, and secret nursings of discontent 
may explode into ferocious outbursts and storms. Thus it 
often happens that on the death of the paternal head, who may 
be the maker of family fortunes, the sons would at once begin to 
quarrel over a division of heirlooms. Notwithstanding the 
sdifying efforts of sages and moralists to promote family 
solidarity and to consolidate family property, there always 
sxist more powerful forces tending to disrupt the family. It is 
true that the degree of harmony or disharmony must vary a 
good deal in different families. In some it may be merely an 
atmosphere of incompatibility or mutual indifference, while in 
others it may develop into a conflict of a very intense kind. 
At any rate, the younger generation brought up under such 
circumstances of stress and strain must suffer. It has been 
demonstrated that children, in homes where there is parental 
conflict, often suffer from mental maladjustment in the form of 
a neurotic or unstable character ; so also, where there is dis- 
harmony in the joint-family, this must also produce corre- 
spondingly unhappy effects on the natures of its individual 

344 L - K. TAG 

In this connection we need not deal with the families in which 
concubinage is practised, for then the complications would be 
greater and the children reared under such conditions would be 
more liable to develop erratic temperaments. 

It has been shown very briefly in the foregoing pages that 
such characteristics as endurance, suppression of personality, 
dependence, incapacity for organization, and instability, which are 
usually found among the Chinese, may be attributed to the 
nature of their family system and the conditions of their family 
life. It is not claimed that all characteristics can be so 
interpreted, but it is firmly believed that a great deal of light 
may be gained on the character of the Chinese by a close 
examination of their family system. It may be recalled that 
Chinese moral philosophy maintains that a good world order must 
be achieved through having well-disciplined families, which on 
the one hand depend on the cultivation of the self, and on the 
other hand lead to the good rule of the state and finally to the 
peace of the world (to our ancients the world was much smaller, 
as it was circumscribed by seas in the four quarters). However 
well conceived, the theory has unfortunately not been proved in 
practice. It may be doubted if the ideal family has ever become 
universal, although moralists of all ages have emphasized its 
importance and preached its maintenance by all means. It 
may still be doubted that even if Chinese family life is made to 
approach what is idealized by moralists, either a good state 
or an international order of peace can be the result. It seems that 
too much emphasis on family life brings with it an accentuation 
of kinship over other social and broader interests. As has been 
pointed out, the Chinese family fails to help to develop those aspects 
of personal character which are desirable and necessary for a 
higher form of social organization. In the course of time, not 
only has the Chinese family not attained the perfection Chinese 
moralists have aspired to, but it has been actually and continually 
breaking down in face of economic and other forces. Perhaps 
with the passing of the power of the family, the Chinese may in 
time be able to discard their narrow familial outlook on life 
together with its accompanying characteristics which are good 
only for family organization, and begin to develop those 
valuable qualities which are required for nation-making in this 
world of struggle for existence. 



Professor C. G. Seligman's book on British New Guinea makes 
frequent mention of tribal migrations. It has been generally 
very difficult to gather reliable stories on the subject, especially 
since the establishment of white rule. The memory of details 
vanishes rapidly or is sometimes retained with legendary dimness. 

In working with the Tjimundo people on the banks of 
the Keram the " Potters' River ", a tributary of the Kaguia 
(mistakenly called " Sepik ", and previously named the " Augusta 
River "), in the former German New Guinea in 1913 and 1915, 
I was able to ascertain the history of the latest wanderings of the 
Tjimundo people. Let us call them a tribe, since in this region 
every village may enjoy the honour of such an appellation. 
Each village has its own peculiarities of speech, of cultural 
equipment, even of physical type and social deportment. This 
is explained by their relative isolation and, sometimes, the 
considerable distance between settlements. 

I found that excellent opportunities for information were 
afforded by asking the history of individual men and by 
investigating the short popular songs about accidents or various 
happenings. It was on such an occasion that I came across 
the story to be related later. These songs often reveal more 
concerning the customs and mind of the people than myths and 
legends, as, for instance, the song which runs : 

Mi orema bidjemoa ? ante Modndl-dobje M6to-ne. 

You name which child from where I Moandi village-belonging Moto-called . 

The verse cited hints at a whole story which is not described. 
The event referred to is not related specifically, so that it may 
be recognized only by one who knows it. These phrases hint 
at the situation in such a way as to be symbolic of the whole. 
The particular song is occasioned by a man who goes hunting 
pigs with his dog, on the way meeting a man named Moto. 
He is asked whence he comes and how he is called. His village 
is found to be Moandi, a small place half-way between Moim 
and Angorum. 

But the song which led me on the track of the Tjimundo 
runs thus : 

ibue oremoa numbodma ? 

their name which village which 



ami Mdtaro ntimboa Imboando TamUende 

I am Mitaro village-belonging Imboando our home 

When I asked about these phrases, I learned from Ti'rgaui, 
through my boy Yerabe, that the people of the Tjimundo on 
the Potters' River had formerly lived at Mataro, somewhat above 
Imboando, where to-day many coconut trees and betel-nut 
palms may still be found. These are invariably a land-mark 
in New Guinea, for they rarely grow in the bush. 
Consequently trees of this type indicate the site of a former 
settlement. And this is the only sign, for houses rot quickly 
and disappear. At Mataro many people had died, and the rest 
had moved to Imboando. 

The Tjimundo people had originally lived in Ambonum on 
the main River Kaguia at the point where to-day the Catholic 
Mission " Marienberg " is situated. When these Tjfmundo 
were building their new village they cut a number of Limbum- 
palm trees for their houses. This was resented by their 
neighbours from the villages of Boanam, Tjuk (Tjigdndo) Mangan, 
and Manber, who allowed them to cut the big trees but not the 
small ones. These people attach great value to the products 
of the forest, and they did not want the new growth exterminated. 
The natives of the place, then, festooned some spears and stuck 
them in the ground, telling the Tjimundo that the hill-people 
had made this sign of their desire to fight. The Tjimundo were 
not taken in by the trick, and said immediately, " It is you who 
have done this/' Then began the dispute leading to hostilities 
in which the Tjimundo drove away the others. In spite of their 
success, however, they did not want to risk settling there again 
for fear the original inhabitants should return, so they migrated 
to Mataro. 

Here they had a similiar experience, occasioned by a woman 
who went for fuel to a house in the old village of Mataro. The 
man of the house attempted to rape her. She fled, weeping, 
and complained to her husband who at once harangued the 
Tjimundo. They seized their weapons and ran for fire which 
they threw into the houses of the Mataro people. Suddenly 
they became conscience-stricken and retreated. Afraid of the 
revenge of the Mataro people, they fled that night to Angorum, 
and the next day went on to the mouth of the Potters' River. 
There they built up their village at a place called Yaguinan, 
where in 1915 five old coconut trees could still be found. 

This site, in its turn, belonged to the people of Moagendo 
with whom they found they could not come -to terms. The 
hostility originated in this event. Two Tjfmundo women were 
visiting the Moagendo, and made fun of the sores on the body 
of a man named Ago. Ago angrily asked, " Why do you laugh ? 


Have you never had any sores yourself ? I shall kill the women 
of Tjimundo. I do not care if the Tjfmundo do come to take 
revenge on the women of Moagendo." And he killed them with 
one of his fish-tail paddles (tjagrdbudja). The Moagendo people 
put the two corpses in their own canoes and let them drift down 
the river. When these were seen by the Tjimundo and the 
corpses were discovered, the latter were wept over and buried. In 
the meantime, not knowing what had happened, a couple from 
Moagendo had arrived, intending to call on friends. But the 
Tjimundo, excited as they were by recent happenings, stirred 

Moagendo n 
Kum brag urn bra. f ~-^ 

FIG. 1. Situation of places in Central North New-Guinea, mentioned in 

this paper. 

up a quarrel, killed the couple, and buried them immediately. 
Ago himself, by the way, later married a woman of the Tjimundo 
called Yabo, who not long after the first killing ran away from 
him and stayed with her people, the Tjimundo. These 
happenings aroused the Tjimundo people so that they sang and 
danced the whole night through. 

In the morning the Moagendo men made a surprise attack 
on their camps. The Tjimundo jumped for their dug-outs, 
and the fight was waged from canoe to canoe. The Moagendo 
were driven away, and a number of their canoes seized. But 


they returned not much later to play a trick. It was at the time 
of the high water after the raimr season, and they went over the 
Moagendo lagoon at Kumb^agumbra. By certain of the creeks 
passable only at high water they reached the Keram, the Potters' 
River, above Yaguinan/ and hicl there in the forest. 
The move was explained to me in this way : 

Kerdm-buda ategrdbera tidjigum 

Keram river gaining in a right angle to the river they break through 

their way. 

Two Tjimundo men, Inango and Moandjimali (elder cousins 
of my boy, Yerabe) happened to go up the river by this route. 
They were shot by the Moagendo people, who seized the corpses, 
took them in canoes to Yaguinan, and showed them to their 
people. Ago, one of the Moagendo men in the party, called up for 
Yabo, the wife who had run away from him, crying out : " O Yabo, 
Yabo : 

" Y6o urema ame-Ugane imbodra kiglino weiaga 

me what kind I have shot pig cassowary come quick 

orboategdnum ! " 
fetch them back for yourself 

By this cry he called one man a pig and the other a cassowary, 
a common method of abuse. When he said, " Get them back/' 
he of course implied, " If you have the power or the courage 
to do it." The remark was highly sarcastic. 

The Tjimundo, aroused by the taunt, ran to their canoes and 
took possession of the two corpses. They struck and wounded 
many of the Moagendo, and also captured several of their canoes. 
At that point the Moagendo retired. Then they tried to get the help 
of the Moim, Kamblinto, and Tambunum people. The plan 
was to lay fire to the village of the Tjimundo. As usual, they 
planned their attack for the early morning. At first dawn on 
the chosen day the triton shell (yudring) was blown : 

" Num ambugon-bodga drda ! trimo 

village they are going to burn with fire surprise attack 

boan-tidjiga ! " 
they are undertaking 

exclaimed the Tjfmundo people. At once they rose and fought 
to defend their place against fire. The Moagendo and their allies 
had to retire. There were wounded on both sides. 

The attack, however, had warned the Tjimundo people that, 
amidst all these hostilities, they could not remain at this place. 
They decided to migrate to a spot farther up the Keram, to 
Mayenum. This was somewhat above the creek by which the 





Moagendo people had come on their recent attack from the 
lagoon ,of Kumbrigqinbra. The taking of this route was 
described 1 by saying : 

" Kend&mbudo attagum 

along the bank they break through in the same direction 
ydgam Kerdm-buda." 

their way the Kerim along. 

Once settled in Mayenum they lived there quietly for about 
two years, apparently on friendly terms with the Moagendo 
and the Moim, with both of whom they exchanged visits. Then 
one night a woman named Tabo heard canoes approaching. 
At first dawn they heard the Moagendo people blow the triton 
shell and beat on their canoes as if they were drums : ^ ^ *, 

When they came up to the point somewhat below Mayenum where 
the river curves, the Moagendo threw spears and shot arrows, 
spitting and shouting : " Now we will eat the bones of men and 
the flying fox ; now let us finish up our affair with the Tjimundo 
people/' The Tjimundo people, on their part, were exceedingly 
frightened as they had not expected the others to come so far 
up the river. Their frequent saying had been : bbbo Ydgenama 
<l They cannot ascend (the river) ". The Tjimundo people 
finally ran away trembling, after an intense fight in which several 
people were killed and some of their houses in Mayenum burned. 
One man of the Moim people fell, shot in the arm by Kamle of the 
Tjimundo. One man named Guemo of the Kamblinto was shot 
in the shoulder by the arrow of Kitugur and killed at once. 
Of the Moagendo people three were killed, one by Kalambi, 
hit in the belly, another man who was struck in the knee by 
Agau, and a third, shot in the stomach by Kagleb. Three of the 
Tjimundo tribe fell: Moandan, wife of Tjagume ; Yesan, daughter 
of Moandan ; Kego, father of Tirgaui, father's brother of Y^rabe. 
This was considered a big battle. On the whole the conflict 
was surprisingly successful for the Tjimundo people, but both 
claimed the victory, and the Moagendo, as well as the Tjimundo, 
danced, sang, and feted (boanumbligirga " made a victory fete "). 
The killing of Guemo occasioned a warrior verse : 

Gudmo andia watamboa kdbutu- 

Gumo uncle totem symbol on the war canoe when he broke it 
y&bugunu andia 
he fell down, uncle 

As many of their houses were burned, and the people did not 
feel safe, even thus far from the Moagendo, they left Mayenum. 



They moved still farther up the Keram to a place that bore the 
name of Orumonum, where again they built houses and planted 
coconut trees. (It may be mentioned here that the various 
places in the bush bear traditional names, transmitted from former 
inhabitants. Villages were generally built on the banks of the 
river for various reasons, particularly communication and easy 
fishing, although they were thus more exposed to attack than 
if hidden in the forest.) At first they kept deep in the forest. 
When they came to Oriimonum they hoped to settle there for 
a long time, so they arranged their houses and sept-halls 
carefully. (A " sept " is a " clan-moiety " intdmboar.) The 
houses of a sept-settlement (gardgum) were arranged in two rows 
at right angles to the river, two rows for each gardgum. The 



D D 

D D s. 


n n 1 

_, K 

n n 

^ n nl 

D n 3 


D n 

no 1 

n n 

n a 


ff. l\C.f\rilYl 

FIG. 2. Pattern of settlement of the Tjimundo Tribe. 

two septs were separated by a road running between them 
(ydgum). Outside and opposite the middle of the two rows of 
houses were the two festival halls of each sept : down-stream the 
one called " Yuormua ", and upstream the one called 
" Nangiindumbir ". These hall names refer to the whole sept 
and are repeated at other settlements of the Tjimundo. They 
used to have a saying : " Yuormua goes first in going down- 
stream, and Nangiindumbir follows behind." (ang-gardgum : 
Yuormua , Nangiindumbir k&ibigum). 

This distinction gives the impression that the whole village 
was floating down-stream. Also, the one moiety gets its women 
from the other moiety. The saying for this is : Mi omdmlega ! 
" Go in the upper village ! " Mi wddjinaya ! "Go in the lower 
village ! " 


'Here in Onimonum they succeeded in remaining for many 
years. The coconut trees matured. Kaib, Yerabe, Orabu, 
and Kiibule were born there. The Tjimundo begot many children 
and had many feasts. In Onimonum Kaib and Yerabe were 
first introduced to Kagiimali, the first stages of puberty rites. 

In the meantime the Moagendo tribe had become embroiled 
with the Kumbragumbra people, some of whom they had caught 
in the outside lagoon on the site of a former settlement. The 
Tjfmundo about the same time had discovered a new trail 
connecting with Kumbragumbra, leading from beyond Mayenum 
through the laginio forest, abundant in breadfruit and Limbum 
trees. On the banks of the Keram, where this trail went off, 


FIG. 3. Pattern of settlement of the Kumbragumbra Tribe. 

one day some old men of the Kumbragumbra people were waiting. 
A man named Kabadje, of the sept Aburuma, who had just come 
by, was shot by a Moagendo man. Somewhat later two married 
women passed by. Both were of Namurua, one of them named 
Magi. Then came a man named Tjandabui, of the Goyeten 
crowd. All were killed. 

It should be noted that on the inner lagoon of Kumbragumbra, 
on the right bank of the channel the houses of the septs were 
arranged in this way: Uppermost is the hall, named Goyeten, 
with a few houses of the same sept opposite on the other bank. The 
next houses below are those belonging to the hall of Banyamden. 
Somewhat farther down comes the hall Namurua, faced by houses 
of the same sept. The fourth hall is Aburuma. Opposite to it, 


on the mouth of that channel of the lagoon, lies the hall of 
Yanumbui. It should be remembered in this connection that 
the Yanumbui people used to be on fighting terms with the 
Moagendo. And it should also be mentioned in passing that 
the Banyamden group came from Ldmbot, the Aburuma from 
Irddj, and the Yanumbui from Tjoutam. 

After killing these three persons the Moagendo people cut 
off their heads, put them in the canoes, and went home, beating 
their canoes and singing a song of victory. Previous to this 
event the Moagendo had arranged with some of the Tjimundo 
to act as go-betweens in the buying of pots. They had given 
rings (guining), shell money (tangdtening) , and tobacco (tjogwi). 
The Tjfmundo people had brought the pots to Moagendo. Irabu, 
Mali, Bogai, and other men and women had gone there to barter 
fish and help with the building of canoes. They were in the 
midst of this when the Moagendo came back from their raid 
with the head trophies. The Tjimundo were frightened and 
hastened to return, afraid of the revenge of the Kumbragumbra. 
For if they had remained and participated in the feasting the 
Kumbragumbra might assume their co-operation. To the 
Moagendo men they said : " You have drummed on the canoes 
and you have sung the victory song, yu&rini. We know all 
about it." 

The Kumbragumbra people later reproached the Tjimundo 
with having betrayed them by informing the Moagendo of the 
trail, which they had not previously known. The Kumbra- 
gumbra came almost to the point of shooting the Tjimundo 
for it, in spite of the fact that they had formerly lived in peace 
together. After this squabble, in order to apologize to them, 
the Kumbragumbra brought pigs and yams to the Tjimundo. 

When a certain man of the Tjimundo died, one named Maliga, 
an uncle of Kaib, the rumour was spread that the Moagendo 
people had poisoned him (b6idjir\tar\ arebtgen). Consequently 
the Tjimundo people again became angry with the Moagendo 
and made allies with the Kumbragumbra against the Moagendo. 
Thus the Kumbragumbra men became the political friends 
(tjdmun) of Tjfmundo, as was already the village of Kambot. 
Then the Kumbragumbra people called on the Tjimundo, and 
it was agreed that Bagi, uncle of Yerabe, should go to Moagendo 
with certain selected men. They said : 

" Bdgi wdgirga Modgendd-bunai " 

Bagi should go [in the] Moagendo direction 

Bagi had very often visited among the Moagen^o people, at the 
home of a son of his friend. They therefore conferred with 
him, saying, "It is better that we make our attack when the 
Moagendo are pulling upstream, for they are thus handicapped 


by the current. This is better than if we should come to their 
village. Try to lure them up the river." 

Bagi then went to Moagendo and told the people : " The 
Tjimundo have now come with pots, bananas, pigs, sugar-cane, 
and all the things which they have long intended to bring you. 
They are, however, afraid to come to your village for you killed 
some of the Kumbragumbra people recently, and so they are 
waiting down the river." The Moagendo people were glad to 
hear this news and many of them went to their canoes. Bagi 
led them down the Kaguia and up the Keram. The Tjimundo 
waited in the " Bragen " forest, somewhat below Mayenum, 
but still above the place where the trail branches off at the 
point where the Moagendo people had ambushed the Kumbra- 
gumbra. The Tjimundo waited in their dug-outs, while 
the Kumbragumbra who had joined them hid in the woods. 
They were shouting to each other : 

" Trlmo-vodga andndi ! tavdrabi ! tjinaga ! " 

attack-crowd keep together ! look out ! they are corning ! 

Before this the allies had offered sago to each other, saying : 

" Bite wdtiaga ! bodg-voagd buZ worbdtega ! wdtiaga I " 
sago get for you ! guest-crowd sago take for you get for you ! 

First came the canoe of Bagi, with his friend Atani, a leader 
among the Moagendo, and his brother, Ambeb. After them 
followed the rest of the Moagendo people in their small dug-outs, 
each holding only two or three men. Among those were Amuno 
Konge, Karak, Kaimbo, and others. When they got the first 
glimpse of the Tjimundo, Atani and Ambeb tried to get on shore. 
Kandi, Kaib's father, was hidden in the woods, preparing to 
shoot at Atani. Ambeb became aware of Kandi's intention and 
seized him by the hands, but Kandi wrenched himself free, and 
pushed his opponent so that he tumbled into the water. Then, 
getting hold of his spear, he struck Ambeb from behind in his 
loin, and then pulled him, dying, out of the water into his canoe. 
Weyabu, father's brother of Yerabe, flung his spear upon Amuno, 
who was hiding in his dug-out, in which he tried to reach the 
other bank of the river. But, felled by three spears, he crumpled 
like a crocodile. Karak received a spear from Daduli, Irabu's 
father, but only in his arm. He fell into the water, and was 
carried away by the current, but managed to save himself and 
is still living. Kaimbo, who was just arriving in his canoe to 
see what was happening, was hit in the eyes by two spears, 
thrown by Moano, father's brother of Kaib, and by Tjambe, 
father's brother of Yerabe. He fell into the water and was 
drowned. Konge received a spear from Kiradji and was hit 
in the back just as he was trying to crawl on to the banks of 


the river. Even as he was crying aloud in his death throes he 
was hit by many more spears. Atani had hid himself in the 
water, where at last he was discovered by Kangandja, Yerabe's 
cousin, and Mali, and Moanale, also Yerabe's cousin and brother- 
in-law of Kaib. They threw their spears after him and at last 
Kangandja hit him. The Kumbragumbra people also shot 
arrows at him. He tried to hold fast to the Limbum tree on the 
banks of the river, but, as its roots were washed under by the 
current, the tree began to fall. Trying now to climb higher 
up on the trunk, he received still more spears. Just when 
Anduali and Dor of the Kumbragumbra in their canoes caught 
Ambeb and Konge, Atani succeeded in catching one of the 
spears meant for him, and returned it to Andiiali and Dor, but 
without hitting them. Before long, however, this most important 
man of the Moagendo had received so many spears and pointed 
throwing sticks that he succumbed. 

The victors began to gather all the corpses into their canoes. 
The Kumbragumbra people were willing to leave Atani, Amuno, 
and Konge, the human spoil, to the Tjimundo, since they had 
killed them. The Tjimundo people in their turn said generously, 
" No, they belong to you. You killed them, you take them/' 
This was meant as a courteous opening for revenge for the recent 
loss in the Kumbragumbra tribe. The Tjimundo took only 
Ambeb. Atani, Amuno, and Konge went to the Kumbragumbra. 
Ambeb's head was cut off, and the body dried on the fire. It 
was carved, and parts were then given to each of the villages with 
whom the Tjimundo were on friendly terms, so Kamboa, Kaugu- 
yanum, Goropa, and Kumbragumbra, all got pieces. They were 
delighted, and roasted their portions to eat with sago. The 
skull was deposited in the sept-hall of the victors. In a similar 
way the Kumbragumbra dealt with their spoil. 

After all this the Tjimundo, of course, were again afraid of 
the revenge of the Moagendo. They remained only two days 
more in Onimonum. On the third day they decided to go 
further up the river. Accordingly, without delay, they sent 
their women on ahead with the big drums. In Bobonarum they 
settled and built new houses. One house was still standing from 
a previous settlement. The hall of Yuormua was built first and 
then that of Nangiindumbir. Their fear for their situation in 
Onimonum had been increased since they knew that the Moagendo 
had become acquainted with the character of the wood and the 
trails on the lower banks of the Keram. It would thus have 
been quite possible for them to be surrounded and killed by 
their old enemies. 

One day when they were just finishing putting the rafters 
on a roof, the Moagendo appeared around the lower bend of 
the river where they had put a trap (tjdle) for pigs and a decoy 


(kddje) for fish or eels. Yanua, Kaib's brother-in-law, got the 
first glimpse, and Weyabu, father's brother of Yerabe, standing 
behind him, saw them also. Yanua made a sign to Weyabu, who ran 
off and tried to get on the other side of the river. In this 
way he exposed himself to the throwing-sticks of the Moagendo, 
who hit him. They seized him and got him into their canoes. 
Then they beat their dug-outs as a sign of victory. This beating 
of canoes was heard by the villagers who began to shout, " Trimo I 
Trimo ! " (surprise attack) thinking both Weyabu and Yanua 
had been killed. The Moagendo people threw lime in the air 
after they had caught Weyabu. But now Yanua appeared among 
his tribesmen who quickly turned about, shouting, " Here he 
comes ! Here is Yanua ! " The Tjimundo then hurried to 
their canoes and chased after the Moagendo. However, they 
were not able to get any of them or to get Weyabu back. Their 
pursuit was hampered, since, in their hurry, they had taken only 
their small canoes. With the Moagendo people there was only one 
man of Kamblinto, none of Moim. The houses which stood in 
Orumonum the Moagendo burned. It was not long alter this 
skirmish that my motor-boat appeared for the first time at 
Bobonarum. Thus ends the adventurous migration of the 
Tjimundo, though, of course, my story has taken them 
only to 1915. 

In addition to this, it may be mentioned that the Moagendo 
had formerly invited the Karadjiindo people, farther down the 
Kaguia river, to fight with them against the Tjimundo, promising 
many pigs. They had also tried to win the Tsingali and the 
Imboando for their enterprise against the Tjimundo. Once 
the Moim refused their support, a dispute broke out between the 
Karadjundo and the Moim, and the father of Matawei, one of 
my boys, was killed by the Moim. The Karadjundo took the 
part of the Tjimundo by saying, " Where do all the pots come 
from ? They come by the trade of the Tjimundo on the 
Potters' River." 

This story was obtained from discussions such as those 
mentioned in the introduction. As the interpreters had stayed 
with me for nearly three years, sharing my life in the bush and 
learning my lack of sympathy with white man's " prejudices ", 
they were not reluctant to communicate to me whatever they 
could gather from our main informant, even details of their 
cannibalistic usages. Admittedly, the occurrences are some- 
what highly coloured because the informants and their interpreters 
were involved, but it must be maintained that from their point 
of view the events had happened as depicted, and are subjectively 
true. I do not believe that their stories are more distorted or 
prejudiced than any similar reports of Europeans. 

The cause of the enmity between the Tjimundo and the 


Moagendo could perhaps be gathered from a complementary 
report on their side. This would undoubtedly run differently. 
But the historical truth we do not know. 

The details of our story are particularly fascinating. We 
are struck by the restlessness of the Tjimundo tribe. Their 
first quarrel originated in the using of the cord of palm trees 
which were considered to belong to another community. Also 
characteristic is the fact that these people value the old trees 
and take care of the young ones. It indicates that a mere 
predatory attitude does not prevail in such measure as we often 

Incidents with a woman are never lacking, first with the 
Mataro, and later when the women of the Tjimundo visit the 
Moagendo, particularly in the case of Ago. 

The use of scorn is also a very human failing, an impulse 
bound to excite resentment and lead to future complications. 
It is a trait met in all societies, only in a more direct and naive 
form among Papuans. Scoffing is a particularly dangerous 
enterprise in these societies, and disdainful remarks are never 
forgotten. For the number of persons with whom one comes 
into contact is not considerable, and daily life becomes 
monotonous in that it offers few possibilities for diversion. 
Insults thus grow deep roots and are cherished for years. It 
seems in this case as if the primary offence of scornful remarks 
was a starting-point for the chain of blood-feuds between the 
Tjimundo and the Moagendo people. This is by no means 
extraordinary. We know of similar starting-points in many 
old sagas. In Montenegro, as late as the nineteenth century, 
a scoffing remark of a young man to a girl at a well led to not less 
than seventy-seven cases of blood revenge. In fact, blood-feuds 
among the Papuans are one of the main topics for activity and 
gossip, and always provide interest unless a feast is in preparation. 
These two are the great excitements of life, since hunting and 
trapping in these parts of the world are neither particularly 
dangerous nor challenging. Honours and prestige cannot be 
acquired in this way. 1 

Of course, there is the desire among feud-bearers to get aid 
from other settlements if possible. This is, in general, gained 
by relatives, particularly by means of wives secured from the 
other village. In our case, Moim, Kamblinto, and Tambunum 
appear as allies of the Moagendo tribe. The Tjimundo in their 
turn, try to draw the people of Kumbragumbra, the lagoon 
tribe, to their side. But only one clan of these had a special 
grudge against the Moagendo, so they were not particularly 

1 A number of stories are reported in my Forsc hungen aufden Salomo-Inseln &c . , 
Berlin, 1912, iii. 


Alliance is finally established with the Kumbragumbra 
people and with the Kambot, who, however, belong to a tribe of 
another language and culture. Such differences do not prevent 
friendships between villages. 

A symbol for declaration of war mentioned is the festooned 
spear. The ever-present tendency to all kind of deceitful 
practices leads to complaints and squabbles. 

The beating of the drums or the dug-outs may be heard 
a long distance, particularly at night, reverberating along the 
river, canyoned between the high walls of the forest. Then 
these rythmical tones sounding through the air seem to one 
half -asleep as coming from a nearby village. 

The manner of fighting, the way a man meets death, and the 
wounds received, are accurately described by the " experts " 
just as in the old sagas. 

Occasionally a kind of " sea-battle " occurs. The men 
are good " sailors " of their craft. Canoes, sometimes rather 
small dug-outs, are paddled standing. Destruction of enemy 
villages and pillaging coconut trees play an important role in 
warfare. Laying fire to the houses of the hostile village is not 
always an easy task on account of the moist climate. 

Exchange of products, even lending aid, goes on even 
among old foes such as the Tjimundo and the Moagendo. In fact 
this precedent was used by the Tjimundo to play a low trick 
on the Moagendo. There is no shame in luring the others into 
a trap as did Bagi with his renowned friend Atani. 

Over all deeds of violence hangs the Damocles' sword of 
revenge and punishment. In particular did the Tjimundo expect 
it immediately after their last successful slaying of the Moagendo. 
Consequently they hurried away to look for another settlement 
which they found at Bobonarum. 

The triumphant Moagendo did not refrain from immediately 
announcing their success by beating canoes, thus with the 
impulsive action exposing themselves to the attack of the 
Tjimundo. The throwing of lime in the air meant realized revenge. 

The seizing of the corpses is a point of honour. For the 
cannibalistic orgies of devouring the slain are considered a grave 
insult to the losing party. They hardly ever remain unclaimed 
in a vendetta. 

Worthy of remark is the delicate way in which the Tjimundo 
let the Kumbragumbra people get their human spoil as due 
revenge. Earlier the Kumbragumbra had apologized with 
donations of pigs for the squabble with their friends. 

A man's death is always connected by these natives with 
the malignant device of an enemy. Quite as a matter of course 
the rumour spread that Maliga had been " poisoned ", or, in 
other words, bad magic had been played against him, and their 


old enemies, the Moagendo, were considered by the Tjimundo 
to be responsible. It is a recognized trait in human social 
attitudes to imagine '"in the blue*' some sequence of events, 
and paint it as fear or hope may dictate. This was the case 
with the death of Maliga. Mere phantasy or imagined danger 
acts as a stimulus for a new chain of happenings of disastrous 
consequences. There is no difference between the so-called 
primitive and the civilized in such behaviour. 

From the Kumbragumbra, for tomahawks and knives, 
the Tjimundo got two of their wives. 

Before the advent of the Europeans, who brought tomahawks, 
calico, and knives as late as 1913, the gifts offered for women were 
large arm-rings and tobacco, at that time still fairly scarce. 
(They would dry the tobacco leaves in the sun, but did not 
know how to make them ferment.) Actual buying of women 
was still rare ; the taking of women in general amounted to 
an exchange between villages. 

Abayu, Kaib's little sister, had been seized by the Kumb- 
ragumbra people without recompense. At the time when this 
information was given to me it was said : yabdnuaga nabiruboatig 
Kaib-ben nabiruboatig , " He shall get recompense, Kaib (with) 
shall get a wife from there/' 

From Kambot, the neighbouring village with which the 
Tjimundo were on good terms, they got women without paying 
for them, in exchange for some of their own girls. Two sisters 
of Yerabe, Kabui and Tjengamo, were given to men of Kambot 
when they were still children. Bfai and Baua were the ones to 
get them. A third woman was Tabo, sister of Wangewa. Also 
two young men were seized by the Kambot for their girls. The 
Tjimundo had to submit to it, as the Kambot people were 
stronger and the Tjimundo were anxious to keep peace with 
them in order to maintain a protected rear against the Moagendo 
in front. 

Nevertheless, when the Kambot people had seized Tabo, 
the Tjimundo tried to get her back on the occasions of her visits, 
avowedly to see her relatives. It was Angem who finally came 
back with her from Kambot at the time when the Tjimundo 
said, " We shall not permit her to return." When she failed 
to arrive in Kambot, some of their men came down and made 
a " row " with the Tjimundo. In their position the Tjimundo 
were not able to keep her and they had to relinquish her to 
Kambot. But retaliation did not fail. The Tjimundo decided 
to get a girl from Kambot. 

The Angorum people also got women from the Tjimundo, 
but did not think of paying for them. Tatuli of Angorum got 
two of the Tjimundo women, first Kangerema, later Yayo. 
Kangerema died after she had borne a child named Braui, at 


present working in Dalip with a mission. Yayo is living and 
has children. 

If a woman marries between the villages of Tjimundo and 
Angorum nothing is paid for her, since each is on good terms with 
the other. The father does not interfere. Thus it happened, 
for instance, with Tatuli, who first courted the girl and then 
went away with her. 

There is no rigid rule as to where the new couple shall live. 
Sometimes the woman goes to the house of the man. In other 
instances the contrary occurs, depending on whether a village 
needs men or women. No festivities accompany marriage or 
the birth of a child, since most of the ceremonies are mainly 
associated with puberty rites. Only when the first child is 
old enough to laugh when it is stroked on the cheeks is it assumed 
that its soul has entered. Then the hair of father and mother 
is cut above the ears and around the head so that only a crest 
remains. The shorn hair is thrown into the water. A small 
feast is then prepared of coconut and yams, and coconuts 
are planted on the place where the child was born. The coconut 
trees from these belong to the child during its lifetime. On 
this occasion the mother sits down on the place where the child 
was born and the father throws on her a pudding (kdndjin) 
of coconut and yams, whereupon she rises and sits in another 
place. The idea is that the ghost responsible for the birth of 
the child resides on the place where it was born. The pudding 
is thrown out for that ghost, and is supposed to dwell thereafter 
with the placenta (kabunbanbdlida) . These meals, with much 
eating of yams, are for the women, and not for the men. 
They say : 

Modndeg atigoragle amugone 
child yams-eating big 

For comparison the method of acquiring women in Kambot 
may be mentioned. A man does not talk with the father of 
the bride if he wants to get a woman, although the father always 
pretends to be angry afterwards. 

Yambe matirima mttirima fdndumbma 

for nothing he catches her, he caught her [and] brought her into the house. 

There is no festivity at marriage, only after the birth of the 
first child a ceremony takes place in the eating of a special sago 
meal, similar to that of the Tjimundo just mentioned. The mother 
prepares ang, which is a sago stick, rolled in leaves and roasted. 
The father makes tjai, a pudding of sago cooked in water. 
The tjai is to be eaten by women and the ang by men, 
the friends and relatives who come to visit the parents. Coconuts 
are also served. The women with the mother assemble in the 


big women's house (ninglin fdnduma, " women their house "), 
and the father and the men in the " goblin hall " (uruklin 
bhnduma). The child, in Kambot, is usually born in the women's 
house, beneath a sleeping-bag fastened in such a way that a 
curtain is made, providing a small apartment for privacy. 

A house for the newly-wed couple is built only after the birth 
of the first child. The couple never meet openly in a house or 
in a village, but only in the bush. The division of labour is 
made in this way : on the man's part, the cutting of sago, 
the planting of bananas, tobacco, sugar-cane, and the laying of 
basket traps for eels, and the clearing of the yam plantations ; 
on the woman's part, the washing of sago, the planting of yams, 
the catching of fish in nets, and the preparing of meals. 

A constant exchange of goods goes on between the Kumbra- 
gumbra and the Tjimundo. The Kumbragumbra people bring 
plaited sleeping-bags (for protection against mosquitoes), croco- 
dile-meat and fish, which they sell to the Tjimundo as well 
as to the people of Kambot, Gorogopa, Bunarari, and Ramunga 
for tobacco, coconuts, bananas, taro, sugar-cane, and pots, the 
pots being mainly from Kambot and Gorogopa. The sleeping- 
bags of the Kumbragumbra are traded further up the Kaguia 
and as far as Angorum. They seem to be the special invention 
of the Kumbragumbra, since in their lagoon and in the midst 
of the Alang-Alang swamps the mosquitoes are particularly 
bad. For the plaiting of the sleeping-bags they use a kind of 
reed (irdngum) and a kind of wild sugar-cane (nddgop) . 

This description has entered into many minutice. These 
must not be considered superfluous, for it is by these very details 
that we are afforded the particular colour of life. The overt 
behaviour alone is accessible to us who are anxious to delve 
" behind " into the psychological attitudes and mental processes. 
By careful investigation into the behaviour and particular 
situations of native life we may learn the symbols of its mental 
constitution, otherwise obscure in its many intricacies and 


The blood-feud has been a custom among all Berber tribes 
from time immemorial and continued to be so also after their 
conversion to Islam, in accordance with the Koranic rule, 
" O ye who believe ! Retaliation is prescribed for you for the 
slain/' I shall give a description of practices connected with 
it which I found among the Berbers of the Ait Yusi, a tribe 
living in the interior of Morocco south of Fez, whom I visited 
in 1910. 

When a man has killed another, both he and all his grown-up 
male relatives on the father's side who live in the same or any 
neighbouring village run away to another village either inside 
or outside the tribe. An attempt to postpone the feud is then 
made by some influential men who are not related to the 
man-slayer. On the day of burial they go to the grave which 
has been dug for the slain man, either before he is buried 
or shortly afterwards, and sacrifice there a sheep as 'dr on his 
family ; or they slaughter a sheep at some distance from the 
grave and then take it there while the blood is still gushing 
from the wound. This sacrifice, which is made at the expense 
of the homicide or his family, is intended to be a means of 
coercion. As an act of 'dr it implies the transference of a 
conditional curse to the dead man's family for the purpose of 
compelling them to do what is asked of them : if they refuse 
they are cursed and are supposed to meet with some calamity. 
If no sheep is available another method of 'dr is resorted to : 
three or four of the men descend into the grave while the 
scribes are making recitations on behalf of the deceased before 
he is buried, and remain there until an agreement with his family 
is reached. They require the latter to promise to refrain from 
all persecution within a certain region for a certain length of time. 
The nearest relative or relatives of the dead man at first refuse 
to do so, or grant a respite of a couple of days only ; but the 
men persist in staying in the grave, other people intervene, and 
at last a period within which no vengeance is to be taken is 
agreed upon. Similar bargaining for the postponement of 
hostilities also takes place when a sacrifice is made. 

In neither case, however, is a mere promise held to be sufficient. 
The dead man's family must produce an acceptable security 
for its fulfilment. A trustworthy man becomes by mutual 



agreement bob umur, or guarantor of the compact. Should any 
member of the dead man's family break the truce (IhSna) by killing 
the homicide or one of his relatives, the bab umur would 
have to pay a fine of a hundred and twenty ewes. Should he be 
seen taking aim at the enemy but be prevented by someone 
else from firing off his gun, the fine would be sixty ewes. Should 
he discharge his gun without being seen aiming at anybody and 
without killing anybody, it would be thirty ewes. The bab umur 
would exact the fine from the party who broke the truce ; but 
in any case he would himself be responsible for the payment of it. 
Should he fail to pay he would be disgraced for ever. His grave 
would be dug at a market-place or a high-road : he would be 
socially a dead man and avoided by everybody. He would be 
unable to get a wife. At weddings the women would sing 
lampoons about him. He would no longer be called by his own 
name, but be referred to as " the traitor ". It is not necessary 
that the guarantor should be a man : instead of a bab umur 
there may be a lull umur, or female guarantor, with the same 
liabilities and the same punishment in store for her if she fails 
to fulfil her duty. For her also a grave would be dug, and 
called " the grave of the traitress ". 

The ' promise of the injured party to refrain from taking 
vengeance, and the security given for it, only imply that the 
homicide and his relatives are safe for the time being if they 
keep at a certain distance from the dead man's village, whereas 
they may be attacked with impunity if they go beyond the 
stipulated border. This border is also preserved in the new 
agreement which is apt to follow on the first one. Shortly before 
the time agreed upon expires the homicide or his relatives ask 
a shereef or a few other influential men to go to the dead man's 
village and put *dr upon his kindred by sacrificing a sheep or 
cutting the sinews of a bullock's hocks as am'arqab (a most awful 
form of 'dr) at their house or tent or outside the mosque of the 
village. Then negotiations are opened with a view to extending 
the truce, and if they are successful a bab umur is again appointed. 
The same ceremony may be repeated on subsequent occasions, 
until the relatives of the deceased at last relinquish their revenge 
altogether, accepting ddit, or blood-money, in its place. If 
they are few in number and weak they may be willing to do so 
before long. But it is hardly considered proper to come to an 
agreement of this kind until a year has passed after the 
perpetration of the crime. 

Before blood-money is accepted the relatives of the man- 
slayer may on their own behalf make terms ,with the family 
of his victim in order to prevent the vengeance from being wreaked 
upon them. They commission the shereef or the other men 
employed as negotiators to arrange about the so-called ab&rra, 


which each of them has to pay as a price for their safety. It may 
amount to two Moorish dollars or ten, or even a hundred dollars 
if they are well off and the injured party appears implacable ; 
and it may be paid either with money or with a silver ornament 
or a gun. After it has been paid the relatives of the man-slayer 
go to the family of the deceased, accompanied by the shereef 
or the other negotiators, kiss the head of each member of the 
family, and entertain them with a meal, of which everybody 
present partakes. When they arrive there the women of the 
household cry and complain of the agreement which has been 
made. The women generally play an important part in the 
negotiations, and not on the side of peace. When their relative 
was killed they scratched and tore their faces and breasts in a 
terrible manner more so than on an ordinary death in the 
family ; and they cut off their right plait, or their left one as 
well, as they otherwise do only when they have lost somebody 
who is very dear to them. If the proposal to pay aberra seems 
to. them to be made too early, they say that it cannot be accepted 
before their wounds have healed. The aberra is taken by the 
male members of the dead man's family his father, brothers, 
and sons not by more distant relatives ; and a bab umur again 
assumes responsibility for their faithfulness to the agreement. 

The life of the man-slayer himself is made safe only by the 
payment of ddit and the guarantee given by one or more idbdb 
imurr (plur. of bab umur). If he is too poor to pay his share of 
the ddit, he tries to raise the necessary sum by putting 'dr on 
people or in other ways, and if he fails he will probably leave his 
tribe for ever. When the ddit has been paid he goes, accompanied 
by a shereef or a few other men of importance and some relatives, 
to the family of his victim with a dagger between his teeth and 
his hands behind his back, kisses the men of the family and other 
male relatives of the deceased who are present, as also his mother, 
oh the head, and says, " We are repentant for the sake of God ; 
O brothers, God laid it upon me according to his decree/' Then 
a meal is served with afttdl (the Arabic seksu) and meat of an 
animal slaughtered for this occasion ; and henceforth the man- 
slayer can go wherever he likes without running the risk of 
being killed. 

Ddit and aberra are not the only expenses he or his relatives 
have to pay in order to come to a satisfactory agreement with the 
enemy. A rrshut (from the Arabic reshwa), or "bribe", must 
be given to the persons who were asked to prevail upon the 
family of the deceased to accept aberra and ddit instead of taking 
vengeance. It is offered secretly, and its amount varies according 
to the circumstances. Moreover, if the people are loyal to the 
Sultan and his government, a dd'dirt (in Arabic d'aira), or "fine", 
is paid to the governor of the district. Again, if the tribe is in 


a state of rebellion and there is consequently a chief who has 
been elected by the people themselves, the dd'airt is given to 
him in order to induce him not to assist the other party ; but 
the amount of it is never great. 

The ddit, or blood-money, generally varies between 200 
and 500 Moorish dollars, according to the agreement made in each 
case ; but in one quarter of the tribe, the Ait Arrba', it is fixed by 
custom once for all, being 300 dollars if it was a man and 150 dollars 
if it was a woman who was killed, provided that both the homicide 
and his victim belonged to this quarter. In other parts of the 
tribe the ddit for a woman is likewise smaller than that for 
a man ; if a man and a woman of the same kin are killed, the 
ddit for the latter is only one-half of the sum paid for the former. 
There are people who accept only money for ddit, but not 
infrequently it also consists of fruit-trees, land, or animals, or 
even a girl. It may be that the family of the dead person demand 
that the homicide shall give his daughter or sister or niece in 
marriage to the nearest relative of his victim. She is then valued 
at a certain price, which is deducted from the sum-total of the 
ddit ; she is married with the usual ceremonies ; and if 
her husband dies she becomes the wife of some other relative of 
the person who was killed. This was the custom even in those 
days when a widow generally, on the death of her husband, passed 
back into her father's power, a custom which no longer exists. 

In the payment of the blood-money the man-slayer is 
supported by his relatives. Only a third part of it is paid by 
himself and the other male members of the family his father, 
brothers, and sons while two-thirds are paid by the other men, 
more distantly related to him on the father's side, who belong 
to his Ijma't, or kin, whether they live in his own village or not. 
So also they receive two-thirds of the ddit paid for the killing of 
one of their kinsmen, whereas only one-third of it goes to his father, 
brothers, and sons. But if a woman is killed the former receive 
no portion of the ddit, because the Ijma't is considered to suffer 
no loss through the death of a woman. If she was unmarried 
the whole ddit is given to her nearest male relatives, her father 
or brothers ; the same is the case if she was married, but 
childless ; but if she was married and left behind sons, it is divided 
between them and their father, and if she left behind daughters 
only, it is taken by the widower provided that he is their father. 

The efforts to evade a blood-feud are made with variable 
success. The acceptance of ddit entails no disgrace and is 
actually encouraged by the tribe, who wants to preserve peace 
among its members ; but if the homicide belongs to another 
tribe ddit is out of the question. Yet in spite of all negotiations 
it may be that the offer of ddit may be refused. If the dead 
man's son is opposed to accepting it his will is decisive ; but a 


grown-up brother also has a strong voice in the matter, stronger 
than that of an old father. Moreover, if a son is still a child 
or not yet born when a peaceful settlement is made, he may later 
on avenge his father's death, although in such a case the ddit, 
once accepted, must be returned. 

Any one belonging to the Ijma't, or kin, of the deceased may 
avenge his death, whereas relatives on the mother's side have 
nothing to do with the blood-feud, unless they at the same time 
happen to be related on the father's side ; for otherwise they 
belong to another Ijma't, even though they live in the village 
of the deceased. But strangers who have settled down in the 
village take part in its blood-feuds, because they are reckoned 
as adopted members of the Ijma't by which the village is 
principally populated, and they are therefore also exposed to 
the blood-feud if any member of the village has committed 
homicide. The duty of an avenger, however, does not compel 
him to take vengeance with his own hands or with the assistance 
of certain people only : he may engage anybody he pleases 
to help him to accomplish his aim. It is not unusual to hire 
someone to kill the culprit. When I asked whether this was not 
considered a somewhat disreputable manner of taking revenge, 
the only answer given was that the principal thing is the 
destruction of the man-slayer or one of his kinsfolk. If the 
Ijma't is not strong enough to effect this unaided, outsiders may 
be appealed to for help by means of sacrifices. 

The general rule is that attempts are made to take vengeance 
on the homicide himself, and on one of his kinsmen only in case 
he cannot be caught. If he is killed, it is the custom that a 
formal reconciliation between the parties takes place at a saint's 
tomb or in the house of some influential man. The same is also 
generally the case when not the homicide himself but some other 
member of his Ijama't is killed. But then the feud may also 
be ^continued : revenge may be taken in return upon the avenger 
or one of his kindred, if he comes near the other party's village 
or is met accidentally on the road. This, however, is likely to 
happen only in the beginning ; after some time has passed the 
parties are in most cases formally reconciled, if they have not 
been so before, even though the homicide remains alive. If 
a child has caused the death of another person, custom does 
not allow vengeance to be taken on another child in its place, 
though it may be taken on a grown-up person if the child itself 
has not been killed. 

Although the man-slayer himself is generally the person who 
is in the first place searched for by the avenger, there are cases 
in which he in any circumstances goes scot-free, because unless 
blood-money is accepted vengeance must be taken on some- 
body else, in strict accordance with the law of talion. If a man 


kills a woman, not he but one of his kinswomen is to be killed, 
and if a woman kills a man, not she but a man belonging to her 
kin shall die. So strictly is this rule observed that if a woman 
who is with child is killed in a fight between tribesmen, her 
body is cut open so that it can be ascertained whether the child 
in her womb is a boy or a girl and the vengeance, or the amount 
of the blood-money, can be regulated according to its sex. 

Revenge may be taken even for manslaughter which has been 
committed on strong provocation. If a husband finds another 
man with his wife and slays the adulterer, the kindred of the 
latter are allowed to avenge his death, though they may perhaps 
content themselves with accepting one-half of the ordinary 
ddit ; and the killing of a robber, even when he is caught at night, 
leads either to vengeance or payment of the full ddtt. Accidental 
homicide is attended with the same consequences as intentional 
homicide, even when committed by a child. It is argued that 
otherwise lack of intention might easily be pleaded as an excuse 
for voluntary manslaughter or wilful murder ; for who can 
exactly tell what is accident and what is not ? Not even the 
last wish of a dying man can prevent a feud. My informant's 
sister's son had been killed by a man belonging to the kin of 
his maternal uncle. Before he died he expressly forbade his 
kinsmen that is, relatives on the father's side to take vengeance 
on his maternal uncle (my informant) or any of his brother's 
sons ; but nevertheless one of the latter was killed. This, again, 
shows that homicide is looked upon not merely as an offence 
against the individual, but as an offence against his Ijma't. 

There may be a feud also in the case of an act that does not 
immediately lead to a person's death. If someone who has 
been wounded by another but has recovered, at any time after- 
wards falls ill and dies and, before his death, declares that his 
illness was due to the wound he received, the person who inflicted 
it is treated as a man-slayer, and it matters not how many years 
have passed since the infliction of the wound. The same applies 
to anybody who beats a pregnant woman if she subsequently 
gives birth to a stillborn child. 

Killing in war leads to the same consequences as any other 
kind of homicide if the war is intra-tribal, but the case is different 
if it is carried on with another tribe. If a person is killed by a 
member of a strange tribe, there will be a feud not merely 
between his kinsmen and those of the man-slayer, but between the 
two tribes ; and in this case the rule of a life for a life is not 
observed : peace may be concluded though the number of lives 
lost on one side is not equal to that lost on the other. It is 
brought about by the leading men of both tribes, who after some 
preliminary negotiations agree to meet on a certain day at a 
certain place. There they exchange their cloaks (izennan, sing. 


azennar] or, if they have no cloaks, their turbans or the cotton 
kerchiefs of their wives ; and if the meeting is held in a village 
they have a meal in common. These proceedings are acts of 
covenanting, which lay restraints on those who perform them 
on account of certain native beliefs. 1 To partake of a common 
meal is a frequent method of sealing a compact, because he who 
breaks it thereby exposes himself to the other party's conditional 
curses which are embodied in the eaten food : it i? said that 
" God and the food will repay him ". The exchange of cloaks 
or turbans or kerchiefs, again, is based on the idea that the 
promisee will be able to avenge a breach of faith on the part 
of the promiser owing to the magical connection between a thing 
and its owner. This idea also underlies another custom that 
may be mentioned in this context. When the Ait Yusi are 
going to fight another tribe, the man who has been elected chief 
secures the cloaks of the leading men of the tribe as a pledge 
for their appearance at a certain place on the day and at the 
hour fixed by him ; and if any of them fails to appear, he 
blackens his cloak and sends it to different parts of the tribe to 
be shown to all the people. The blackening of the cloak of the 
faithless man is not merely a means of disgracing him, but is 
supposed to cause him misfortune, black being a colour that 
contains has, or evil. 

There are cases of homicide in which no vengeance is taken 
nor blood-money paid, namely, when a person has been killed 
by a member of his own family. In explanation of this I was 
told that the family does not like to lose another member besides 
the one it has already lost. A son who has killed his father or 
mother such cases are by no means rare runs away, not to 
return for a few days, if he has grown-up brothers, and then 
nothing is done to him ; but if he has no grown-up brother he 
may not have to leave his home at all. If a man kills his brother 
there is, for the moment at least, no question either of revenge 
or blood-money, unless the brother has a grown-up son ; but if 
he has a son who is still young, the fratricide may later on have 
to pay for his deed with his life. If a husband kills his wife 
her kindred will avenge her death on a woman of the husband's 
kin, or blood-money has to be paid to them. 

A person who has been accused of homicide, but has 
not been proved guilty, can clear himself of the charge by 
oath, if forty-nine other male members of his kin, all of whom 
need not be grown-up, also swear to his innocence. Ten of them 
are chosen by the accuser. If any of these refuses to swear, 
the suspected person is considered guilty of the crime ; hence 
it frequently happens that by bribery the accuser induces some 
kinsman of the latter to refuse to act as conjurator. This 

1 See my Ritual and Belief in Morocco (London, 1926), i, 564 sqq. 


STft "Ji?* c< ? m P ur ation which is also resorted to in the case of 
theft though then the conjurators are only five may be traced 
to the kinship organization : to the collective responsibility 
of kindred and to their duty of mutual assistance. As an act 
ol homicide exposes not only the man-slayer himself but his 
kindred as well to the blood-feud, so also homicide and theft 
expose them to the danger involved in perjury ; and the larger 
the number of conjurators, the greater the havoc. This explains 
why even young boys are accepted as conjurators they are 
valueless as witnesses, but their perjury reduces the strength 

I f if;* T"! 6 be interestin g ^ know if a similar idea is 
at the bottom of the same institution among other peoples- 
Arabs, Greeks, Teutons, Celts, and some uncivilized races 


THE LEADERS, p. 371. 

The Phantom Ship. 

The Resurrection of Ua Halai 

Maivake's Ghost. 

It is now more than twelve years since a movement known 
as the Vailala Madness began in the Gulf Division of Papua. 
It spread with the speed of an epidemic and affected with very 
few exceptions all the coastal villages of the Division. At the 
beginning there was high enthusiasm : the movement was then, 
in native phrase, " hot/' But as this heat abated the masses 
gradually ceased being directly affected, and the movement was 
only carried on by a number of specialists, or " bosses ", who 
still were or pretended to be under its influence. Finally, it 
lapsed altogether, though naturally some of its results remain. 
I am unable to give a precise date for the expiry of the movement, 
since native informants are so far from reliable in such matters. 
But at the western end of the Gulf Coast (where this paper 
is being written) there was about three years ago a definite move 
to reinstate some of the ceremonies, and this, it is said, effectually 
" closed the way ". During its early youth, then, the movement 
was very vigorous ; that was the time of miraculous expectations 
and miraculous happenings. Then it began to die its lingering 
death, and by now it is no more than a memory. It is the 
main purpose of the present paper to compare that memory as 
it is with the youth of the Vailala Madness as it really was. 


An account of the movement has already been published by 
the Papuan Government as an Anthropological Report, 1 but its 
main features may be recapitulated here. The most striking 
of them was that of mass hysteria. Great numbers were affected 
by a kind of giddiness ; they lost or abandoned control of their 

1 " The Vailala Madness and the Destruction of Ceremonies in the Gulf 
Division " (Anthropology, Report No. 4), by F. E. Williams (Government Printer, 
Port Moresby, 1923). 

369 B b 


limbs and reeled about the villages, one man involuntarily 
following the example of another until almost the whole 
population of a village might be affected at the same moment. 
The condition was known as haro heraripe " one's head is 
turning round ". It is as obvious that these symptoms were 
involuntary among the masses as that similar symptoms were 
deliberately affected by certain leaders for their own purposes. 
While they indulged in these antics the leaders frequently poured 
forth utterances in " Djaman ", or " German ", a language 
composed mostly of nonsense syllables and pidgin English which 
was wholly unintelligible. But at other times they took care to 
make themselves understood by words and actions, and thus the 
movement was invested with real significance. 

The main teaching was that the old customs and ceremonies 
must be done away with. The bull-roarers and the masks worn 
in the H 'eve he and Kovave ceremonies were cast out of the men's 
houses and burnt while women and uninitiated children looked on. 
Personal adornment was banned ; feathers were snatched from 
the heads of vain unbelievers ; and the forbidden lime-pot was 
dashed from their hands. In some communities the people, 
or certain influential men among them, were strong enough to 
resist the invasion and preserve their possessions and customs. 
But in most they were completely overpowered : they caught 
the haro heraripe and themselves joined in the work of destruction. 
There can be no doubt that misunderstood' Mission teaching had 
something to do with this aspect of the Madness. 

But besides mere iconoclasm there was some positive doctrine. 
The " bosses " declaimed against thieving and adultery. (There 
was no originality in this, and it certainly had no great effect, 
for sexual standards were noticeably relaxed for the time being.) 
Some of the preachers were perhaps quite sincere, though by 
claiming to detect wrong-doing they continually extracted 
atonement from the wrong-doers in the form of pigs. Further 
they insisted on cleanliness ; on the equality of women ; and, 
as the most important duty, on the necessity of offerings to 
the dead. 

It is to certain prophecies and beliefs, however, that I wish 
to draw special attention. It was foretold and everywhere 
believed that the spirits of the dead would return ; in some 
quarters they were expected to appear as white men, and indeed 
some Europeans were actually welcomed as the ghosts of Papuans. 
Universally it was believed that a steamer would come to the 
Gulf. The original idea was certainly that it would be full of 
the spirits of the Papuan dead, though many of those who looked 
for the vessel were not quite clear as to the nature of its passengers. 
The leaders were in continual communication with the dead, 
receiving messages in various forms, sometimes by papers that 


fluttered down from the sky or were held out by invisible hands, 
but mainly through the agency of flagpoles, the message being 
caught at the top and transmitted to the base, where it was 
received by those who had ears to hear. Everywhere pre- 
parations were made for the welcome of the dead. Food was 
accumulated and ripe coconuts were stacked in readiness for 
loading on to the steamer. In the meantime the spirits were 
supposed to come in invisible form and eat of the offerings that 
must be set out for them ; and in many villages there were tables 
ready laid with knives and forks and floral decorations. It was 
principally from these offerings to the dead that the " bosses " 
or leaders were enabled to make their profits ; for they posed 
as go-betweens and had sole access to the ahea uvi, or " hot 
houses ", to which the spirits resorted in order to partake of the 
offerings made by the more simple-minded. By methods such 
as these, and by continuing to make or allow their heads to 
" go round," the leaders kept the Vailala Madness alive long after 
the masses had ceased to show any nervous or physical symptoms. 


It is important to get an idea of the personal character of 
the leaders. Unfortunately the more prominent of them (at 
this western end of the Division) have since died, so that it is 
not possible to add much that would be reliable to what has 
already been said in " The Vailala Madness ". Biere alone 
remains from among the real leaders ; and further acquaintance 
confirms the impression that he is a strong character and a man 
of high intelligence ; it also makes clearer the fact that he was 
an impostor. I think he may stand as an example of that class 
of leaders who deliberately used the movement for their own 
gain. Ua Halai, of Arihava, was, I believe, of the same class. 

While some leaders, however, were cool impostors others 
were evidently to some extent sincere. Harea, who played a 
highly important part, I never met personally. He eventually 
became a lay preacher, but the Rev. R. A. Owen, under whom he 
worked, informs me that he was a strange character, fanatical 
in the extreme, and liable even as a lay preacher to verge upon 
unintelligibility. The record of Evara, to whom as an individual 
it is plain the movement owes its origin, has already been 
mentioned in " The Vailala Madness ", with the significant 
item that he had been subject to ecstatic seizures before ever the 
Madness began. I have since learned that as a youth he was 
marked by extreme nervousness ; he avoided the men's house ; 
he would fly to the bush on the least sign of a quarrel between 
two villagers ; and he would never come near to look on a corpse 
at a native funeral. When he married, his " inside hardened ", 


but this unusual nervousness must have attracted some attention, 
for it was his son, born after it had disappeared, who told me of 
the forms it took. There is reason then for thinking that both 
Evara and Harea were to some extent unbalanced. 

I am prepared to think that the same could be said of a number 
of other leaders. Hairi, of Hohoro, e.g. had come to Orokolo, where 
a dance was in progress, and paraded naked before the dancers. 
He then visited the local missionary and saw in his house the 
spirits of four deceased villagers. He still gives a circumstantial 
account of this vision, not doubting its reality. He also met 
other spirits on a later occasion. The same man has given me a 
version of a legend involving strange contortions of his own ; 
and he is the only man from whom I have heard of a character 
called " New Guinea Jack ". He could not give me a clear 
account of this person's exploits. He said he knew them when 
the haro heraripe was on, but now he has forgotten the details. 
Hairi seems to be perfectly sane now ; but from his own account 
one may be inclined to believe that during the earlier days of 
the Vailala Madness he was deranged. 

On the whole it seems likely that not a few of the doctrines 
of the movement originated in visions and delusions ; and it 
cannot be doubted that they were to some extent born of the 
mental confusion that followed the inrush of new European ideas. 1 
It is also worth observing that the central doctrine, viz. that 
the dead would return, represents what is normally the longing 
of every native ; and it is significant that Evara's head " went 
round " previously at the death of his father, and again, when 
the movement was launched in 1919, at the death of his brother. 


We may now consider some present-day versions of the 
happenings of 1919-21, when the Vailala Madness was still 
" hot ". I made a point of questioning younger men on this 
subject. Some of my informants had then been no more than 
children ; others and the testimony of these is specially 
interesting had been away as indentured labourers and know 
of the earlier period only by hearsay. The accounts given by 
these younger informants perhaps represent the more or less 
consolidated memory of the real Vailala Madness. 

Not only from these informants, however, but also from adult 
contemporaries of the movement I derived a rather surprising 
impression. One might have expected that the whole thing 
would now be regarded everywhere as a gigantic hoax bristling 
with impostures and unfulfilled prophecies. Oh the contrary 

1 On this matter see C. G. Seligman, " Temperament, Conflict, and Psychosis 
in a Stone-age Population/' British Journal of Medical Psychology, vol. ix, 1929. 


I found a fairly widespread belief that the strange things which 
were expected to happen really did happen. It is true that some 
informants are sceptical, and in regard to at least one notable 
happening (which will be referred to later) there remains no illusion 
whatever. But there still lives a popular belief that those first 
years of the Vailala Madness constituted a brief age of miracles. 
Men will tell you to-day how the ground shook and the trees 
swayed twelve years ago. (They are familiar with earthquakes, 
but this continual movement was no earthquake.) Flowers 
sprang up in a day, and the air was filled with their fragrance. 
The spirits of the dead came and went by night morning after 
morning the imprints of their European boots and even their 
bicycle tracks were found on the beaches. After dark they could 
be heard moving in the bush. In Arihava just after sundown 
dogs used to rise from the ground and roam the village. They 
belonged to the bevehere haera, the " cold " or dead people, and 
they were large black-and-white dogs like those of Europeans. 
The people tried to catch them but always failed. Lights flashed 
suddenly out of the darkness : they were the same as electric 
torches, but no men were seen behind them. Papers came 
fluttering from the sky, and excited individuals snatched at 
them : but the papers eluded them and vanished. Some 
" bosses ", however, did receive papers, offered by invisible 
hands at night, and these were taken to the white missionary 
for interpretation. The coming of an aeroplane was prophesied 
and sure enough (by a coincidence that must have meant a 
great triumph) the real aeroplane appeared. Meanwhile messages 
continued to come down the flagpoles : an informant who might 
be relied upon for a sceptic tells me how he used to hear the 
warning hum in the pole, followed by a sort of spiritualist's 
knock at the base ; then he would see a " boss " lay his ear to 
the wood, receive the message, and deliver it. The messages 
being mostly broadcast in " German " meant nothing to the 
unenlightened, but there was no doubt and in many minds there 
still is no doubt that they were received. 

The Phantom Ship 

We may refer in more detail to three features or incidents of 
the Vailala Madness. The first is that of the Phantom Ship, 
if such a title may be excused. This vessel was much spoken 
of and genuinely expected. No doubt a great number of believers 
were sadly disappointed over the Sisima (steamer), as they called 
it ; but it would be a mistake to think that even now they have 
all been completely disillusioned. Some informants, indeed, 
have said bluntly that the steamer did not turn up, but I find an 
impression remaining in many quarters that the expected visit, 


or a number of visits, did take place even if the spirits did not 

Thus a young man who was house-boy to the Magistrate at 
Kerema tells me how he once heard cries of " Sailoh! " from the 
village of Karaita just below the residency. He went out to 
see what boat was coming and found some of the " bosses " and 
others affected by the Madness running about the beach in great 
excitement, clapping their hands and shouting " Hippu ! 
Hippu ! " They were welcoming the Phantom Ship. My 
informant looked out over the calm waters of Kerema Bay and 
saw the wash of the steamer as she approached. He heard the 
pounding of her engines, then the rattle of her anchor-chain. 
He heard the dinghy lowered noisily into the water and the 
sound of her oars as she was rowed ashore. And not only he 
but all the others present (so he says) heard the same sounds, 
for they were communicating their impressions to one another. 
Soon their ears informed them that the dinghy was returning ; 
the anchor was heaved up, the engines started, and the Phantom 
Ship sailed out of hearing. Not once had she been seen. 

Again, one hears how a steamer (the prophecy is not nailed 
down to one only) entered the Vailala River at night. She had 
three masts and an imposing red funnel, though these perhaps 
were not very clearly observed ; more emphasis is laid on her 
lights, which many saw as she passed quickly upstream. None 
of the passengers were visible, but when Evara paddled out 
alone in a canoe and came alongside they threw a token into the 
dug-out . It was a medal which he subsequently wore round his neck 
like the badge of a Village Councillor. (When I met Evara, nine 
years before I heard this story, I noted his Victory Medal, 1919, 
but he did not tell how he had come by it. I do not know that he 
himself professed to have received it from the steamer.) 

Here at Orokolo and Arihava the steamer was sighted one 
morning at about n o'clock. The smoke was seen, but before the 
vessel came properly into view it was obscured by clouds. To 
the majority of people in Orokolo (who had escaped or resisted 
the Madness) the steamer was not so clearly visible, but the 
haro heraripe men would clutch them by the arm crying, " There, 
can't you see it ? " and my informants appeared to have no doubt 
that it had really been there. 

The Resurrection of Ua Halai 

When at the end of 1922 I was first inquiring into the Vailala 
Madness at Arihava one of my best informants was Ua Halai. 
He was still, so to speak, practising, and was the most influential 
of the " bosses " in a village of some 1,500 people. I did not 
know then that he had been the hero of the remarkable exploit 


which is here recorded ; perhaps everyone conspired to keep 
it secret, for there was a well-grounded feeling that the Vailala 
Madness was not viewed with favour by the Government. The 
exploit was nothing short of resurrection from " death ". 

It transpires that Ua Halai had complained of indisposition 
one morning, and by midday he was " dead ". He had apparently 
foreseen this eventuality, for he had issued instructions that when 
his body was laid out in the usual fashion it was not to be closely 
approached. Further, he had said that no grave should be dug 
for him ; his friends and relatives should wait and see what they 
would see. Ua Halai was so " dead " that the rats gnawed his 
ears. (This point is made by all who tell the story, and the dis- 
figurement of the ears is vouched for by eye-witnesses. Some also 
say that his toes were attacked.) But at noon of the third day 
he came back to life, issued forth from the house, and began to 
preach in a voice of thunder, using the " German " language. 
Next he caused a litter to be carried from end to end of the long 
village of Arihava while he lay reclined upon it, waving a 
cassowary-plume switch and crying out that his litter was the 
steamer of Lavara, a legendary ancestress, come back to Papua. 
During his period of " death ", as he gave out, he had been to 
the land of the dead, whence he had brought back more warnings 
against stealing, adultery, etc., as well as the idea of the ahea 
um t or " hot house ", which was to be shared as a place of resort 
by the spirits and the " bosses ". 

To us, of course, it appears almost self-evident that Ua Halai's 
" death " was a carefully prepared hoax. It would seem likely 
that he had accomplices among the other " bosses ", for it is 
said they stood guard, allegedly looking for signs of returning 
animation, but also enforcing their superior's wish that none 
should approach too near. Yet with the rank and file the hoax 
was a complete success ; I have heard no one express any doubts, 
and in answer to a direct question one will be told seriously that 
for three days the man was dead. Had I known of this exploit 
when I met Ua Halai in person it would have been possible to 
examine his ears and see to what extent he or his accomplices 
had gone to provide this grisly evidence. That the ears were in 
some way disfigured is beyond doubt. It is, of course, conceivable 
that they were actually gnawed by rats during a trance, but the 
careful staging of the whole affair is strong evidence for the other 

Maivake's Ghost 

The third incident is of a different kind in that it represents 
a failure on the part of the " bosses " to carry out their pretence. 
In Vailala West the principal " boss " was Biere, whom we have 
seen to be a man of outstanding intelligence and personality. 


He was surrounded by a small clique who long continued to exact 
offerings from the villagers on behalf of the dead; and some- 
one of this clique conceived a unique method of impressing the 
common people. It was to provide them with the representation 
of one particular ghost, that of a man Maivake, who had died not 
long previously. 

Biere and his colleagues, who like the other " bosses " 
assumed what might without any stretch be called the role of 
priesthood, placed a strict taboo on the ahea uvi. Two younger 
members of the clique, Aita and Karoa, used to take turn and 
turn about in impersonating the deceased Maivake. Morning 
and evening the ghost appeared, his face masked and his body 
enveloped in a garment of bark-cloth similar to that of certain 
grotesque figures, known as Eharo, which form an adjunct to the 
Hevehe ceremony. Maivake's costume, however, was treated with 
some kind of oil which made it soft and clinging and thus gave it 
an unfamiliar look. An eye-witness has described the scene as 
Aita paraded in his ghostly character before a crowd of women 
and girls who danced and sang. Towards evening the offerings 
of cooked food only the good lean of the pork was acceptable 
to the spirit were taken up to the ahea uvi, and only the young 
attractive -women were allowed to take it up. (Some informants 
have declared that these young women used actually to enter 
the ahea uvi, and that some of them were interfered with in an 
obscene manner.) My informant did not venture too close, but 
he was impressed by the strange texture of the garments, and 
he declares, I believe sincerely, that he did not then suspect the 
figure to be any other than that of Maivake. 

The report of this spirit spread far and wide and seems to 
have gained general credence among the rank and file. I am told 
that the " bosses " in Arihava (we need not suppose they were 
so thoroughly gulled) were actually preparing to follow the 
example of Vailala and produce a spirit of their own when they 
were suddenly interrupted by news of a collapse. Some suspicion 
must have existed in Vailala, and one evening a person of very 
solid character named Kaiva dared to lay his hand on the ghost. 
Feeling substantial flesh and bone under the bark-cloth, he tore the 
latter off and began to belabour the young man Aita who emerged 
from the disguise. Aita, in the midst of his beating, objected to 
bearing the sole blame, and recommended the angry villagers to go 
in search of Karoa. But Karoa was already half-way across the 
Vailala River, and it was a long time before he ventured back to 
his home. 


It is not surprising that false rumours and beliefs should have 
been prevalent in the early days of such a movement as the Vailala 


Madness, but as we have seen, these beliefs have outlived the 
Madness and are still held to a rather remarkable extent. It 
may be suggested, therefore, that they are already passing into 
the form of legends ; that what were in popular estimation the 
miracles of those exciting days are now more or less absorbed 
into folk-memory. We must wait, perhaps, a good deal longer 
before this suggestion can be fully verified ; but should it prove 
to be sound, then we shall have concrete evidence of how those 
legends had their beginning. 

I do not propose to deal in this paper with the general causes 
of the Vailala Madness. By way of brief summary I submit 
they are to be found in certain effects of contact with and subjuga- 
tion by a superior people. Such contact involves (i) the effort 
to assimilate a body of new and difficult ideas, and a resultant 
mental confusion ; (2) the loss of customary means of social 
excitement ; and (3) a general sense of inferiority. It is suggested 
that the first of these three factors was largely responsible for 
the emergence of the leading ideas of the movement, and that 
the latter two placed the masses in just the right mood for their 

It is rather, however, in the causes of certain particular beliefs 
connected with the movement that we are interested here. The 
evidence must always, of course, be far from complete, but one 
can cite a few historical details that will plausibly account for 
the emergence of certain beliefs and practices. The rite of receiving 
messages by the flagpoles, for instance, must be correlated with 
the fact that the Anglo-Persian Oil Co. had a wireless apparatus 
at Popo, where many Gulf boys had been at work ; and the existence 
of the flagpoles themselves, with the fact that they had been 
set up in some villages with quite another purpose by the London 
Missionary Society. The choice of " German " as the language of 
inspiration may be directly due to the fact that certain Gulf 
boys had been to Rabaul, where the A.P.C. also operated ; 
or, if not that, then at least to the fact that we had recently 
been at war with Germany. The prophecy that an aeroplane 
would come I should hardly hesitate to trace to Evara's possession 
of a book, Love and the Aeroplane, with a picture of the hitherto 
unknown flying-machine on the cover 1 ; the dramatic fulfilment 
of the prophecy came when Capt. Hurley's plane, the first in 
Papua, flew over shortly after on its way to the Delta Division. 
And a number of doctrines and beliefs notably that of Ua 
Halai's resurrection on the third day must be traced to the 
Christian teaching which was being given in the Mission schools. 
Such antecedents, however trivial, must play an all-important 
part in the shaping of legend ; it is this sort of thing that gives 
the distinctive form or the queer turn to the story. In the case 

1 See Vailala Madness, p. 29. 


of nearly all established legends the historical antecedents can 
only be conjectured, but it need not follow that we are always 
wasting our time when we try some historical reconstructions 
from the evidence of legend as we find it. 

The part played by individual leaders in the movement is 
obviously of the greatest significance. The attribution of its origin 
to Evara has been amply verified by my later inquiries ; but 
some of the other " bosses " had their own gleams of imagination. 
It is obvious that movements of this kind have their starting 
point in the mind of an individual, viz. in his personal reactions 
to those antecedents, large and small, which may be regarded as 
more ultimate causes. Then other individuals begin to exert 
their influence, like so many buds on an original stem from which 
new branches may develop. We have briefly examined the 
character of a few of these leaders. Some of them were 
undoubtedly cool schemers with a gift for leadership or organiza- 
tion and an eye to their own interests. But it seems that this 
class have in some measure proceeded by exploiting the ideas 
of men who were not so well balanced. In fact it is not too much 
to say that the most important ideas of the Vailala Madness 
emerged originally from visions or delusions. It is certainly 
easier to believe that they were the product of fevered imagination 
than of cool planning. 

The reaction of the populace to such ideas is in primitive 
society the test of their permanency. We have seen some amazing 
examples of suggestibility and credulity. While in some villages 
the people stood firm against the destruction of their customs, 
there must have been few out-and-out unbelievers. The most 
extravagant claims were not too much for primitive gullibility, 
and prophecies were accepted as facts even after they had 
manifestly failed. The delusion or the pretence of one man may 
thus easily become the belief of thousands and eventually appear 
in the guise of legend. Indeed, it is not improbable that the 
miraculous exploits of many culture heroes are no more than their 
delusions or pretences which have been accepted as facts. 

I have pointed out that there are degrees of scepticism and 
credulity among different informants. But provided there are 
sufficient believers I do not think that at the primitive level 
a leavening of unbelievers can prevent this kind of legend- 
making. There are, in fact, varying moods of scepticism and 
credulity in every individual ; or to put it another way, there 
are moments when the native's critical faculty, such as it may 
be, is awake, and others when it is sound asleep ; in truth, it 
seems almost that he deliberately puts it to sleep. Now, when 
a native is story-telling he and his audience are in the mood of 
credulity ; they willingly discard the trammels of fact, and the 
more the miracles the better the story. 


This coming and going of credulity is familiar in the native's 
attitude toward his ceremonies as well ; and certain features 
of the Vailala Madness serve to throw light on the growth of 
ritual as well as legend. It might fairly be claimed that the 
offerings at the ahea uvi and the receipt of heavenly messages at 
the flagpole had the makings of genuine ritual ; but it is the 
experiment of Maivake's Ghost that provides the best instance. 
Here the " bosses " of Vailala, and those of Arihava who were 
about to follow their example, had all the materials at hand for 
the creation of a new kind of masked ceremony, one which might 
have replaced the Hevehe and Kovave that they themselves had 
cast out. There may have been other doubters besides the man 
who unmasked the ghost, but there were certainly a great number 
who believed ; and had the cult but lasted long enough to develop 
a more liberal policy, absorbing into its midst all who paid the 
necessary pig, then it might conceivably have become permanent. 
No doubt many similar experiments have failed in the past : 
the circumstances attending one such attempt, however, may 
throw a light upon those masked ceremonies which have had 
a more successful run. 

If the present paper has any claim to interest it is because it 
deals with culture on the move. The Vailala Madness came as 
a violent shock to the societies of the Gulf Division, and the 
adjustments and reactions afford material for the study of culture 
in a state of unusually rapid metabolism. Incidentally we have 
been enabled to trace with some particularity the origin of a 
number of beliefs and of certain practices which might have 
become permanent. It may be idle to speculate upon origins in 
a static culture ; but there are more than enough native societies 
undergoing change at the present day, and the study of these has, 
I believe, a special importance, for here if anywhere we shall 
have a chance of discovering how elements of culture begin and 
how they grow. 

FROM 1896 TO 1934 


1896. " Streptothrix Madurae " : Transactions of the Pathological Society, 

1898. " The Hatching of Bilharzia haematobia " : Transactions of the 

Pathological Society, xlix, 
"Supernumerary Dorsal Fin in a Trout " : Journal of Pathology 

and Bacteriology, v, and Transactions of the Pathological 

Society, xlix. 

1900. " Shell of Pearl Oyster, showing Islands of Nacre in the Hinge 

Ligament " : Transactions of the Pathological Society, H. 

1901. " Filiarasis in British New Guinea " : Transactions of the Patho- 

logical Society, lii, and Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology, vii. 
" Eczema papillomatosum among Papuans " : Transactions of the 
Pathological Society, lii. 

1902. " Endotheliomata of the soft palate and of the Mesentery " [Report 

of Pathological Society Meeting] : British Medical Journal, i. 
" A note on Albinism, with especial reference to its Racial 

Characteristics among Melanesians and Polynesians " : Lancet, ii. 
" Sexual Inversion among Primitive Races " : The Alienist and 

Neurologist (St. Louis), xxiii. 

1903. " Specimens of Endothelioma " : Transactions of the Pathological 

Society, liv. 
" The Inhibitory Effect on Bacterial Growth of the Viscid Exudate 

in Tabetic Joints " : Transactions of the Pathological Societv, 

" A Case of acute splenic Anaemia terminating fatally with general 

bacterial Infection " (with H. P. Hawkins) : Lancet, i. 
" A Case of umbilical Calculus, with a note on its Histology " 

(with J. R. Harper) : Lancet, ii. 
" On the Physiological Action of the Kenyan Dart Poison Ipoh, 

and its Active Principle Antiarin " : Journal of Physiology, 

1903-4. " A New Method of Counting the Corpuscles in the Blood " 

(with W. M. Strong) : British Medical Journal, 1903, ii, and 

Transactions of the Pathological Society, 1904, Iv. 

1904. " Cretinism in Calves " : Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology, 

ix, and ["Congenital Cretinism in Calves "] Transactions of the 
Pathological Society, Iv. 

1905. "Observations on the acquirement of secondary sexual characters, 

indicating the formation of an internal secretion by the testicle " 
(with S. G. Shattock) : Transactions of the Pathological Society, Ivi. 

1906. " True Hermaphroditism in the Domestic Fowl, with Remarks 

on the phenomenon of Allopterotism " (with S. G. Shattock) : 
Transactions of the Pathological Society, Ivii. 

1907. " The Haemogregarines in Snakes " (with W. L. Sambon) : Trans- 

actions of the Pathological Society, Iviii. 

1907-8. " A Contribution to the Study of the Relationship between 
Avian and Human Tuberculosis " (with S. G. Shattock, L. S. 



Dudgeon, and P. N. Panton) : Proceedings of the Royal Society 

of Medicine, Pathological Section, i. 
" An Example of Incomplete Glandular Hermaphroditism in the 

Domestic Fowl " (with S. G. Shattock) : Proceedings of the 

Royal Society of Medicine, Pathological Section, i. 
1908. " On the Occurrence of new Growths among the Natives of British 

New Guinea " : Third Scientific Report Imperial Cancer 

Research Fund. 
1910. " The Influence of Oophorectomy upon the Growth of the Pelvis " 

(with S. G. Shattock) : Proceedings of the Royal Society of 

Medicine, Pathological Section, iii. 
" Attempts to produce Chondromatous or Osteomatous Growths 

by the Grafting of Foetal Bones " (with S. G. Shattock and 

L. S. Dudgeon) : Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 

Pathological Section, iii. 
1914. "Observations made to ascertain whether any Relation subsists 

between the Seasonal Assumption of the ' Eclipse ' Plumage 

in the Mallard (Anas boscas] and the Functions of the 

Testicle " (with S. G. Shattock) : Proceedings of the Zoological 

Society of London. 


1901-7. Contribution s to Reports of the Cambridge Anthropological 
Expedition to Torres Straits, ii (1901) ; iii (1907) ; and v (1904). 

1902. " The Medicine, Surgery, and Midwifery of the Sinaugolo " : JRAL> 


" Note on the Preparation and Use of the Kenyah Dart-Poison 
Ipoh " : JRAI., xxxii. 

1905. " Note on a Skull prepared for Purposes of Sorcery, from the 

Mekeo District, British New Guinea " : Man, v. 

1906. " Physical Anthropology and Ethnology of British New Guinea '" 

(Hunterian Lecture) : Lancet, i. 
" Anthropogeographical Investigations in British New Guinea ' 

(with W. M. Strong) : Geographical Journal, xxvii. 
" Note on a Trephined Skull from New Britain " : Man, vi. 
" Notes on the Tugere Tribe, Netherlands New Guinea " : Man, vi. 

1907. " On Prehistoric Objects in British New Guinea " (with T. A. Joyce) : 

Anthropological Essays presented to Edward Burnett Tylor in 
honour of his j$th Birthday, Oct. 2, 1907, Oxford, Clarendon 
Press, and British Association Report. 

1908. " Note on Totemism in New Guinea" : Man, viii. 

" The Vedda Cult of the Dead " : Transactions of the Third Inter- 
national Congress for the History of Religions (Oxford) . 

" Note on recent Work among the Veddas " : Journal of the Royal 
Asiatic Society, Ceylon Branch, xxi. 

" The Veddas": British Association Report. 

1909. " Linked Totems in British New Guinea": Man, ix. 

" A Classification of the Natives of British New Guinea " : JRAI., 

" A Type of Canoe Ornament with Magical Significance from 

South-Eastern British New Guinea" : Man, ix. 

1910. The Melanesians of British New Guinea, Cambridge University 

Press, pp. xxiii + 766, illustrations, and map. With a chapter 
by F. R. Barton, C.M.G., and an Appendix by E. L. Giblin. 

" A Neolithic Site in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan": JRAI., xl. 

" The Physical Characters of the Nuba of Kordofan " : JRAI., xl. 


1911. The Veddas (with Brenda Z. Seligman), Cambridge University 

Press, pp. xix -f 463, plates, text-figures, and map. With 

a chapter by C. S. Myers and an Appendix by A. Mendis 

Gunasekara, Mudaliar. 
" Note upon an Early Egyptian Standard " (with Margaret A. 

Murray) : Man, xi. 

" Note on the ' Sa ' Sign " (with Margaret M. Murray) : Man, xi. 
" An Egyptian Holy Man " : Lancet, i. 

" The Divine Kings of the Shilluk " : British Association Report. 
" The Cult of Nyakang and the Divine Kings of the Shilluk : 

Fourth Report of the Wellcome Tropical Research Laboratories, 

" An Avungara Drum " : Man, xi. 
" Dinka " : Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, iv. 

1912. "A Cretinous Skull of the Eighteenth Dynasty " : Man, xii. 

" Stone Adze Blades from Suloga (British New Guinea) as Chinese 
Antiquities " : Man, xii. 

1913. " Ancient Egyptian Beliefs in Modern Egypt " : Essays and 

Studies presented to William Ridgeway on his both Birthday, 
Cambridge University Press. 

" Some Aspects of the Hamitic Problem in the Anglo-Egyptian 
Sudan " : JRAI., xliii. 

1914. " The Cheddar Man " (with F. G. Parsons) : JRAI., xliv. 

1915. " Note on Bisharin " : Man, xv. 

" Note on an Obsidian Axe or Adze Blade from Papua " : Man, xv. 
" Note on a Wooden Horn or Trumpet from British New Guinea " : 

Man, xv. 
" An undescribed Type of Building in the Eastern Province of 

the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan " : Journal of Egyptian Archeology, 

" Presidential Address to Section H. Anthropology " : British 

Association Report. 

1916. "A simple Form of Reaping Knife from Northern Kordofan " : 

Man, xvi. 

" Dinka Arrows " : Man, xvi. 

" Stone-headed Club from Southern Kordofan " : Man, xvi. 
" An Australian Bible Story " : Man, xvi. 
" Lime Spatulae from Rossel Island, British New Guinea " : 

Man, xvi. 
" The Uas Sceptre as a Beduin Camel Stick " : Journal of Egyptian 

Archeology, iii. 
" Ceramica Sudanese impressa a traliccio " : Revista di Antro- 

poligia, Roma, xx. 
" Ethnic Relationship of the Vanquished represented on certain 

Pro to-Dynastic Egyptian Palettes " : Annals of Archeology 

and Anthropology, vii. 

" A Prehistoric Site in Northern Kordofan " : Annals of Archeo- 
logy and Anthropology, vii. 

1917. " The Physical Characters of the Arabs " : JRAI., xlvii. 
" Nuba " : Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, ix. 

" Canoe Prow Ornaments from Netherlands New Guinea " : Man, 

" A Bongo Funerary Figure " : Man, xvii. 

1918. " The Kababish, a Sudan Arab Tribe " (with Brenda Z. Seligman) : 

Harvard African Studies, ii : Varia African, ii. 
1920. " Shilluk " : Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, xi. 

" Bird Chariots and Socketed Celts in Europe and China " : 
JRAI., 1. 


1921. " The Older Palaeolithic Age in Egypt " : JRAI. t li. 

" Quartz Artefacts from West Africa " (with A. W. Cardinall) : 

Man, xxi. 
" Veddas " (with Brenda Z. Seligman) : Encyclopaedia of Religion 

and Ethics, xii. 

1923. " Type Dreams, a Request " : Folklore, xxxiv. 
" Note on Dreams " : Man, xxiii. 

1924. " A Pseudo-Mongolian Type in Negro Africa " : Man, xxiv. 
" An Amerind Type in China in T'ang Times " : Man, xxiv. 

" Anthropology and Psychology : A study of some points of 
Contact " (Presidential Address) : JRAL, liv. 

1925. " Some Little-known Tribes of the Southern Sudan " (Presidential 

Address) : JRAI., Iv. 

" Social Organization of the Lotuko" (with Brenda Z. Seligman): 
Sudan Notes and Records (Khartoum), viii. 

1926. " Pygmy Implements from North-East Africa " : Man, xxvi. 

" Archaeology : VI. South and Central Africa " ; " Anthropology, 
Applied " : Encyclopaedia Bntannica, I3th edition. 

1927. " Anthropology " (Lecture delivered in King's College, London) : 

The Mind. London, Longmans, Green & Co. 
" Dreams and Dream Interpretation " : Chapter in Religion and 

Art in Ashanti, by R. S. Rattray, Oxford, Clarendon Press. 
" Rest and Work Periods of the Sinaugolo (Rigo District, British 

New Guinea) " : Man, xxvii. 
" The Dubu and Steeple-houses of the Central District of British 

New Guinea " : Jahrbuch fur Prdhistorische and Ethno- 

g/aphische Kunst (I PER). Leipzig. 

1928. " Further Note on Bird-Chariots in Europe and China " : JRAI., 


" The Bari " (with Brenda Z. Seligman) : JRAL, Iviii. 
" The Unconscious in Relation to Anthropology " ; British Journal 

of Psychology (General Section), xviii. 
" Two Rare Chinese Pieces " : Burlington Magazine, lii. 

1929. " Temperament, Conflict, and Psychosis in a Stone- Age Popula- 

tion " : British Journal of Medical Psychology, ix. 

11 Anthropology, Applied" ; "Africa, Anthropology and Ethnology : 
North Africa and Egypt " ; " Africa, Archaeology and 
Antiquities " ; "Arabs " ; " Azande " ; " Bakkara " ; " Bara- 
bra " ; " Bari-speaking Tribes " ; " Beja " ; " Burun" ; 
" Hameg " ; "Lotuko " ; " Nilotes " ; " Nuba " : Encyclo- 
paedia Britannica, I4th edition. 

1930* " Note on the History and Present Condition of the Beni Amer 
(Southern Beja) " (with Brenda Z. Seligman) : Sudan Notes 
and Records), xiii. 

Races of Africa, London, Thornton Butterworth (Home University 
Library), pp. 256, diagrams. 

" The Religion of the Pagan Tribes of the White Nile " : Africa, iv. 

" Japanese Temperament and Character " : Journal of the Japan 
Society, xxviii. 

" The Distribution and Characteristics of the Human Race : an 
Introduction to Ethnology " : Outline of Modern Knowledge, 
London, Gollancz. 

" The Social Organization of the Nilotes " (with Brenda Z. Selig- 
man) : British Association Report. 

1932. Pagan Tribes of the Nilotic Sudan (with Brenda Z. Seligman). 
London, Routledge, pp. xxiv + 565, plates, text-figures, and 

" Egyptian Influence in Negro Africa " : Studies Presented to 


F. LI. Griffith, London, Egypt Exploration Society. 
" Anthropological Perspective and Psychological Theory " 
(Huxley Memorial Lecture for 1932) : JRAI.> Ixii. 

1933. " The Ideas of Primitive Man " (Broadcast Address) : The Future 

Life, London, Martin Hopkinson. 

1934. " Egypt and Negro Africa : A Study in Divine Kingship " (Frazer 

Lecture for 1933), London, Routledge, pp. 1-82, text-figures. 
" Infra-red Photographs of Racial Types " : Nature, cxxxiii.